How I Forgot How To Write A Book*

I finished THE KILLING TYPE back in November. I took a break, did some reading, didn’t check my email obsessively, got an idea for a new story, didn’t think about checking my email obsessively, forgot a lot of things during the whirlwind of the holidays, found out I’m in a Number 1 Best Selling Amazon anthology, and then remember that I am a writer and writers write, and OMG I can finally get back to my other WIP!

I opened the document, ready to immerse myself in my alternate 1800s, feel the surgical steel on my fingertips, wander through terrible mazes filled with specimens. Originally, this WIP had been slated as a journal, but I didn’t stick with that longer than the first paragraph. I knew it was messy. It was last year’s NaNoWriMo book, the idea that had been bugging me since last April.

I took a look at the first chapter and promptly shut down Scrivener.

I called myself a wuss and fired it up again. I’d just rewritten 90k of a different novel. I could totally tackle a first chapter.

Nope.

I picked a new place to start. I hated it. I scrapped it.

This WIP is a complete departure from TKT. It’s first person, male POV. There’s science instead of murder (don’t worry, there’s murder, too,) and it’s another time and setting entirely. I had such a hard time letting it go to pick up TKT, and I admit I was heartbroken at finding it difficult to get back into.

I wrote a few lines from the new half-baked idea.

After a week of little progress, I went back to one of my favorite scenes and started picking off passive voice, spelling errors, and useless words.

Turns out not all books are equal, and what worked to revise one project won’t necessarily help revise another.

I tossed TKT and started over. There were so many flaws that a clean slate was honestly my best hope. I made a timeline, changed the entire structure from straight narration to alternating chapters, and yes, it was hard and it sucked, but I rocked it out.

With this WIP, there are many issues. I wrote it at a million words per minute in the heat of competition. There are characters that come and go because as I’ve said before, I’m not a linear writer. With TKT, I rewrote it mostly chronologically. I thought with this WIP, I could revise the same way.

Nope, wrong again.

So I sat down and made another timeline. Then a list of chapter titles and a description on what needed to happen. If I couldn’t remember, the chapter was cut. Then I crafted a plan for reanimating the dead and trapping the soul of the deceased in the corpse.

No, really.

Don’t try this at home.

But I still couldn’t get the beginning right. So I left it. I’m very very bad at beginnings. I don’t know why I find them so difficult. Probably because everything hinges on it. So I set out to find the most important scenes and edit them first. Now I’m working from the inside out and it’s going better for me.

Progress is, unfortunately, slow. The Day Job’s mad hours make effective editing hard to come by. It’s difficult to steal an hour here and there when you never have a set schedule. But never writing is simply not an option. I chip away at it, bit by bit.

It’s weird to feel like you’ve forgotten how to do something when you’ve just done it. I’ve stared at my WIP for hours without a clue how to begin. The magic answer is you pick a place and go from there.

Really, less magic, more putting on your big girl panties and figuring out ways to get around your own brain. Writers are mercurial, ever-changing creatures. Time for more revising, followed by jousting.

Because it’s my birthday and birthday girl demands jousting.

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