Quick update, I know I’ve linked to a few of these articles before, but every now and again I get an email asking for advice on writing, and I usually include these in my replies. So in case it’s helpful or interesting to anyone, here’s the full list of articles on my writing process I did in 2013.
Archive for December, 2014
We looked back at 2014, and it was glorious. So what does 2015 have in store?
The past few years have been spent working on Bright Lights, Dark Nights. I don’t know how it’ll play out upon release, that’s up to the world, I suppose, but the writing of it was a bigger and more detailed process than I’ve had before. The nature of the book itself required a lot of TLC, it’s a very delicate story that deals with some heavy issues that only grew month by month as I worked on it. The way it mirrored our current society by the time I finished was honestly pretty shocking to me – there are things in this book that I thought were pushing it and ended up being light compared to events that actually occurred. It was important to capture the right tone and get all the details and it took a long time to get there but I couldn’t be happier with it or more proud. Bright Lights, Dark Nights is my big event of the year. In August it’s finally going to be out on shelves, this thing I started back in 2011 will finally be a real live book. Scary.
I imagine I’ll have some talking appearances once it’s out this summer but its early still, so I guess stay tuned for that.
In the meantime, I’ll have to get a new project going! I hope to not take 4 years in between every project, I’d be much happier having a book out every year or two. One of the complications I encountered once I started thinking about what’s next, was how do I top what I just did? I feel like Bright Lights is steps above anything I’d done yet, and while I had a handful of ideas for YA, for the most part they felt like a step backwards. My initial reaction to that was to try something entirely different. As I was finishing the book and working on the cover, I became very excited about the idea of doing a Middle Grade book. Something funny, with a bunch of art, lighthearted, a complete 180 from the heavy themes of Bright Lights, Dark Nights. Rather than try to “top” what I’d just completed, I’d go to a whole new field and start from scratch with no comparisons. I plowed my way through a pitch that I was pretty excited about, but (author transparency!) my editor and agent felt it needed a lot of fine tuning. In retrospect I think I was taking all of my adult sensibilities and tossing them into an idea with a bunch of middle school kids. Middle School kids = Middle Grade, right?
And then I got really into Emo Boy. I kinda missed the guy and felt I could do better with him, I could certainly do far better than what I’d done a decade ago. I had a bunch of ideas and got into the idea of bringing him back for a GN series, but that fell apart before long as well for a few reasons (“what’s emo?” “That’s been done before – by you”)
So where I’m at now is this character came into my head that really intrigues me. And this world around him. It’s in the YA realm, which I think will please my editor, but so far that’s what it is – a few puzzle pieces, a character, a world, a tone, a few scenes, potential twists. I can see the book, the people in it, I can feel it, but it’s lacking the story that makes it an actual book. With all the other projects and with the holidays and all the gift-crafting I’ve done this month I haven’t had a single session to sit in silence and actually work on this, though, so that’s what I’m looking forward to the next month or two, is getting to dive into this world, poke around, figure out what the story is here and how to tell it. And hopefully at some point this year I’ll be at work on my fourth novel. And hopefully it won’t take 4 years to finish it this time!
I like this time of year – even though the transition from December to January is just another day/week/month, it’s a good time to check in and make new plans and resolutions and also to look back at the year before.
Sadly, I just now realized I missed my tradition last year of looking back at the year before and looking forward to the year ahead, so I can’t compare what I’ve done to what I’d planned on doing. I can’t even fully recall what I was up to at the split of 2013 and 2014 aside from the same thing I’ve been doing for a few years now, finishing up Bright Lights, Dark Nights. And I’m sure my number one goal was to finish it up by Spring, which I came closer to than I had every other year I gave myself the same goal.
Maybe it was easier to write a year-in-review post on the years that I did a lot of varying things. Even in 2013 I had some video game stuff and the Penumbear release. A lot of authors can put out a book every year, which leads to a lot of stories and “life events.” That’s how it went for me with Happyface and Winter Town, those were busy years! The past few, not as much.
The big life event for me in 2014 was being unemployed from March to June. That was a new experience that added a lot of stress and anxiety, but also a lot of freedom and the time to actually finish up my third book, something I don’t think I would have without that time. I could still be working on it right now if I was exclusive to the few weekend and evening hours I could squirrel away. Usually I’m not one to say “everything happens for a reason” or “everything always works out in the end,” I take the more pessimistic notion of well, sometimes things suck and end suckily. But, in this case, I was afforded a few months of writing time to finish my novel and found work just in time to keep my apartment and it did indeed work out well.
After that, I worked on the cover for the book, my first time designing my own cover. Fun fact: not many authors design their own covers! In the process I found a LOT of respect for cover designers as this was no easy feat at all. I’m going to do a 3 part blog series on the process with a lot of development art soon so I’ll go deeper into that soon enough.
In September and October I did an illustrated short story for an anthology Roaring Brook is putting out next year. I’ll talk more on that next year, I suppose. This too was harder than I expected, and took a lot more time than I’d planned but I’m happy with the results.
I’ve been toying with what to do next, and even put together a full proposal for a Middle Grade novel that ultimately was put aside for retooling. I also played around with some ideas for an Emo Boy reboot that ultimately didn’t pan out. As of now the plan is to do more YA, but for a moment in between projects there was a world of possibility, graphic novels, Middle Grade novels, fantasy series. It’s good to have options! I’m still not entirely positive where I’m headed– but I’ll talk more about that in my next blog, 2015, looking forward!