I want to talk about what I’m doing, what I’m thinking of doing, and why I’m thinking of doing those things. I want to explain my choices. I want to walk you through my plans.
I want to talk about TBSOL because I’ve never felt like writing this book was a solo journey. So many of you have been there since the beginning, giving me feedback, reading my drafts. So many of you continue to be there, and continue to support me through all of my versions and all of my craziness, and I love you for it. Truly. Thank you.
I want to talk about TBSOL.
But I’m not going to.
I promised myself I wouldn’t. I promised myself that this time around, I would shut up and just write.
This time around there are no beta readers, no beta team. It’s just me and the keyboard and a whole lot of coffee.
And it’s really effing weird.
So, this post is mostly to say: I’m alive, and I’m writing. I’ve been writing. Off and on. On and off. Well and poorly. Fast and slow. Word after word after word. I’m writing.
I’m not going to talk about TBSOL. This may be the last time I mention it for a very long time. A very long time. Like… at least a week.
But, since we’re friends…
One of my favorite authors, Caitlín R. Kiernan, had a blog back in the day in which she talked about the daily process of writing one of her novels, and as a writer, I found this blog fascinating and invaluable.
I don’t expect to offer anything nearly as fascinating or invaluable to my own readers, but I didn’t want to feel completely disconnected, either, since some of you do love and appreciate the minutia.
So, for those of you who are interested in process, or progress, or in the general abstract randomness that goes into the writing of a book, I’ve started a thing here: http://process.ingriddiaz.com
I don’t know exactly what it is, or what it may become, but it is there for the curious. More importantly, it is public, but mostly hidden, and not filling up your Facebook feeds or inboxes.
It’s a win-win.
Finally: No matter where you are in the world, I pray you are safe.
I’ve been stuck reworking the first few chapters of TBSOL for over a year. It was a half-hearted effort. I felt drained. I felt tired. I felt stressed and weighted down by the knowledge that people are waiting.
The last time I let K read anything I’d written was months ago and she said, “I don’t like it, I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re doing.”
Nothing was coming together. The flow of the story was wrong, the characters were wrong, and every time I tried to write, all I felt was rage.
This week, the rage went away. I don’t know why. It just went away.
For the past few days I’ve been writing the way I used to write when I was younger, back when it was just me and a keyboard, sitting at my grandparents’ house in Puerto Rico, typing away and not giving a crap.
I couldn’t remember what it felt like to start writing and not want to stop. I couldn’t remember what it felt like to write this novel without a thousand voices in my head telling me which way to go.
I don’t know how long this feeling will last, nor what will come from it. I don’t know if this is a new version, or an old version, or an edited version. I don’t even care anymore, honestly. All I know is that last night was the first time in our twelve-year relationship that I handed K pages of TBSOL to read and didn’t wonder at all whether or not she would like them.
Those of you who are signed up to receive my newsletter are aware that I’ve taken a step back from TBSOL. I’m still working on it – don’t worry – I’m just trying not to stress out about it. There are writers who can force it, just pound on the keys until the words come out and the book is finished. I’d (probably) be a lot better off if I were that kind of writer, but I’m not.
This book has become too important to me to wing it haphazardly and I was getting to the point where I just didn’t care anymore if it was good or bad or if anything made sense. I just wanted to finish it. That’s not what I want for this book (especially not for its final version), and I’m certain that’s not what most readers want either. So, I’m hitting pause until I feel I can approach the book from a better emotional standpoint.
TBSOL FV will be done, and when it is done you will know about it. Promise.
the midnight sisterhood: a series
I’m excited to announce the title of my next project: The Midnight Sisterhood, a young adult series about an all-female secret society operating out of (fictional) Midnight Island. There will be spies and mysteries and ghosts and psychics and aliens – and of course – gay girls and romance.
At some point in the future, I’ll be re-launching midnightisland.com as the official hub of the series, and there will be lots more info about it there.
I’m still laying down the foundations of the world, the various plots, and – my favorite part – creating all the characters, but here’s what I can reveal for now:
The Midnight Sisterhood is comprised of various secret Orders
There are vigilantes, paranormal investigators, hackers, psychics, people with special powers and so on and so forth, all belonging to different Orders with specified operations, and all at different hierarchies of knowledge, access, and power
I’m starting the first book with the characters of the High School Vigilante Order, whose main purpose is to spy, gather info, and rectify wrongs wherever they see fit.
It will be an LGBTQ series, and most of the main characters will fall somewhere in the not-straight spectrum.
So, that’s what I’m working on when I’m not working on TBSOL. Most of this will sound familiar if you’ve kept up with the blog, as I’ve mentioned the series before. Now it’s finally taking shape, so I’m excited to be giving it more attention.
I was really out of it yesterday after only managing a couple of hours of sleep, which I thought meant I’d fall asleep early and easily, but 2AM rolled around and I was still awake.
Sort of awake.
In and out of awake.
I remember I was trying to fall asleep while thinking about TBSOL and what was left to write. At one point, I had this vision of Kris jumping out of a bed shouting, “FRIES!” and I’m pretty sure I was asleep by that point, but I still remember thinking, “OH MY GOD THAT’S AMAAAAAAZING …. OHHHH BRILLIANT…. WRITE THAT DOWN!”
But I fell back asleep.
Or I thought I did.
I don’t actually recall reaching for my iPad in the middle of the night, but I guess I must have because today I found this:
I started Rayne back in 2003 and I never got around to finishing it. I moved to France, I turned away from fiction-writing for several years, and ultimately decided to focus all of my attention on finishing TBSOL — a task that has taken way, way longer than I ever expected.
Rayne never received the sort of attention that TBSOL did, despite being out there on the Internet for many years as a free read, but that honestly didn’t bother me too much. In a lot of ways, the lack of interest was a bit of a relief. I didn’t feel as guilty taking time away from it. I didn’t feel any intense pressure to finish it. Most of all, it gave me the time and space I needed to admit that I wasn’t 100% happy with the story. I wasn’t even 60% happy with it. The attention the story did receive, however, convinced me that it was a story worth telling. keep reading…
I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about my own creative processes (because I often think I don’t have one) until someone asks me how I go about doing certain things, and then I feel like a dummy because I don’t have an answer prepared. Writers should know what they’re doing, right? So I’m told. Anyway, this has been happening more and more often, so I thought it was time that I organize my thoughts on the matter – or at least attempt to – so that next time someone asks about my “writing process,” I can be like, “Oh! I wrote about that. Here’s a link!”
So, we’ll start with character building.
My next project after TBSOL is going to be a young adult series that revolves around four high school girls who belong to a secret vigilante group. You can read a very rough draft of the first chapter – here.
So, here’s how I’ve gone about creating my four girls.
Do you recall, back in the day, I invited you (and others) to participate in a little project called A Sentence a Day wherein I instructed you (and others) to contribute one sentence per day to a growing document in GoogleDocs? If you don’t remember, here’s a little refresher. Anyhoo – the time has come, many months later, to reveal what became of this project.
I’m pleased to announced that this story became even more absurd than I ever dared hope. I hope you enjoy the cray-cray half as much as I have.
If we were to run into each other and you were to say, “Hi, Ingrid! How are you?” I would say, “No, no, let’s talk about you first. Tell me about your life.” And then I would sit there and listen intently to everything you had to say. (Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually enjoy talking about myself and would much rather listen to other people talk). Once you were finished talking you’d probably remind me that I hadn’t answered your original question, at which point I would say, “I’m great!”
I’m in a really good mood today for several reasons:
1. I ordered a pack of new dry erase markers because the ones that came with the whiteboard are, I think, depressed. They’re just very sad, emo markers. I felt as if I were forcing them to exist and that’s not pleasant for any of us. Maybe they don’t wish to be markers. Maybe they wish to be paintbrushes or pens and who am I, really, to stand in the way? So I ordered new ones and these are awesome. They’re bold, colorful; they write like they mean it. These are markers who love being markers. I wish to learn from their enthusiasm.
2. Coffee! Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!
3. I finished Chapter 14 last night. Yay! Special thanks to the lovely people on Facebook who gave me the idea for Kris’ Halloween costume. I think Kris makes a great Hermione Granger.
4. My printer is totally out of ink. I tried to print out some of TBSOL and the pages came out looking like skunks. This isn’t a good thing, but it means we get to buy a new ink cartridge! How exciting! Yeah!
5. CoFFeeEeeeeEEEe! Weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!
6. So you know how I’ve been focusing very hard on dropping TBSOL’s word count? I sat down today to compare the word count on the NEW/FINAL(ish) draft to the second. As in, plot progression wise. And I realized that I’d cut over 35,000 words. Then I created a file called “FRANKENSTEIN_TBSOL” and copied and pasted the NEW stuff, removing the old stuff, so that the NEW stuff would connect to the OLD stuff I haven’t edited yet, and the total word count is now 158,000. That means so far I’ve removed/reworked/revised/rewritten over 40,000 words of content. I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m very happy.
7. Today I get to start Chapter 15, which is when J & K meet for the first time in person and I’m MUY excited about reworking that whole thing. But first I’m sitting down with a highlighter and the printed pages of Chapters 23/24 of V2 to see what needs to be kept.
8. SPAGHETTI!!!! WEEeeeEeeeeeeeEEEEeeeee!! I have some leftover spaghetti. I’m very excited about it.
9. You know what I just discovered while writing “wee” like a crazy person? I discovered that if you hold down a vowel key on the Mac it pops up a menu of alt-symbols. Like ÊË …and then you can just…select one. I DID NOT KNOW THAT. That changes MY LIFE.
10. Wàïõú … it means I love you.
EDITING to ADD an 11th thing:
11. So this morning I went to make coffee only to find the bag empty. “OH MY GOD WE ARE OUT OF COFFEE!” is what I yelled out — because … well, it can’t happen. It’s like oxygen running out. I slid down slowly to the floor, clutching desperately at nothing, holding my arm up in a final act of supplication — and then K was like, “There’s a whole bag of it in the hallway.”
“There isn’t! I looked!” I managed to breathe out, with what remained of my life-force (but also loudly, because we were in separate rooms).
“Then try the kitchen counter.”
Oh, I thought. For I had not looked there. I looked there. And there it was. A BAG FULL OF BAGS OF COFFEE. I revived instantly. The sun came out. Angels sang a chorus in my ear. It sounded a lot like Jessie J’s “Do It Like a Dude” — it was beautiful.
AND THEN! After I hit publish on this post, I went to get some Ginger Ale and I was like, “OH MY GOD WE ARE OUT OF GINGER ALE!” only I didn’t actually say that because that’s not as tragic as running out of coffee (I’m not ridiculous) … so it was more like I thought it, quietly, to myself. And then I walked into the hallway and noticed A BAG FULL OF BOTTLES OF GINGER ALE!
“IT’S THE BEST DAY EVER!” I yelled to K, who laughed.
And then I went to put the bottles of Ginger Ale away.
I discovered that the grocery store had given us some free stuff!
It’s a rainy day in Lyon and I’ve not gotten out of bed ALL DAY LONG, except for the times I got up to make coffee and breakfast and lunch and set up a posting queue for Randomness on a Post It on my main computer and then made more coffee and — *yawn* — goodness, excuse me. I am so sleepy. It’s that type of weather. I am curled up in my blankets, wearing my Angry Birds sweatshirt, and I’m not moving and no one can make me.
So remember when I mentioned I was behind on my writing schedule? Well, I fixed that! I made a NEW schedule. And now I’m AHEAD OF IT. Fuq da police.
Here are the keys to writing a novel:
Keep on keeping on.
Never give up, never surrender.
ALL THE WORDS.
Telling yourself you’re pretty.
Sending weird texts to friends.
Cackling madly. To yourself.
Rocking back and forth.
Making up songs about kitchen utensils.
Not listening to the voices that say, “You’re not good enough.”
There. Now you know all my trade secrets. VENTURE FORTH, YOUNG JEDI. WRITETH SOME STUFFETH.
While I’m on the subject of things and the writing of them, I’m going to try to explain the plot of the Sentence A Day story as far as I understand it.
A cursed young vampire encounters a cigar-smoking dragon, who tells him of his destiny to marry a bunny. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman named Plox, and her sidekick, Lolly-Cat, find themselves in a lesbian bar, searching for the hidden secrets of a pizza-shaped crystal.
It’s very complex and has many hidden layers of meaning.
You should partake in this crackfest if you haven’t already, and if you have, then you should continue to do so because I’m very interested to know what happens next between Lolly-Cat and the lesbian cowgirl robot, whose butt she just pinched. >> ADD YOUR SENTENCE. I mean, if you want to.
Have a lovely day, dear strangers on the Internets. May good things happen to you today, tomorrow and always.