Sunday, July 31, 2016

On Finishing the Job

No, I'm not talking about murdering someone. Or am I? 
Guess you'll have to find out.

Two days ago, I finished draft one of book two in my YA dystopian trilogy. The week leading up to me punching the last key (violently, I might add) was the absolute worst week ever. I could not for the life of me remember why I ever liked writing, why this story matters, or why anyone would possibly care about it. And it got me thinking: it must be like that for other writers, too.

One of my very good friends once told me that she has a mind full of hundreds of stories, none of which she'll ever finish. I do think she'll find the one that begs her to finish it, but I still feel her pain. 

This one is for those of you who are wrestling with the second act, the last few chapters, or even the last few words. 

In the words of Mortal Kombat, FINISH HIM.

Here's what happened to me in the days after I finished writing draft one.

1. I read books. FOR PLEASURE.
Okay, this is so big for me. If you're anything like me, reading books you enjoy has taken a back seat to writing books you enjoy. I read a few books every few months, but that is nothing like the avid reader I used to be. This week alone, I finished reading two manuscripts that friends have given me, a YA novel (Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich), and - of course - "The Cursed Child" is next on the list. I can't even describe to you how amazing it is to have time for all this.

2. I finally did my hair.
And put on makeup. And left my house... you get the picture. I honestly do not know what came over me in the past week, but I turned into a little couch troll with permanent laptop imprints on my thighs. I think I might have worn the same pair of pants for a few days, and then I forgot about pants altogether. So when I finally got up, stretched, and looked in the mirror, it's safe to say that I was more than a little grossed out. 
On the upside, after seeing the hideous post-writing beast, brushing my hair made me look like a supermodel. 

3. I cleaned my house. 
And it turns out, that was desperately needed. There was a veritable mountain of dirty dishes, my laundry hamper looked sort of like it might get up and walk away, and the recycling was blocking the door. I'm not proud of it. 

4. I remembered that there are other people in the world. 
I have friends! And they still love me, even though I was basically unreachable for the end of July. It takes a special sort of person to be able to understand that I'm a writer, which means I'll disappear sometimes, and when I resurface, I will not smell good. So, yeah, my people are pretty cool.

5. People got excited.
This was so so so awesome. As soon as I announced that the manuscript was done, people were clamoring to know when they'll be able to get the book, and that just melted my heart. Of course I love my characters and story, but when somebody else does? There's just something about people falling in love with the story that I love. 

6. I felt good.
By far, the best thing that happened - and the reason you should always push through - is the euphoria you feel when you look down and realize you said all you meant to say. That feeling is unlike any other. I danced around my house like a lunatic, ate a bunch of ice cream, felt ill, then danced around some more. 

So you should do it. Go finish the THING. 
You can do it, I promise. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday America -- Here's Your Gift

Yay it's America's birthday! So I won't take long on this post, only long enough to tell you that on this glorious of occasions, I have a gift for you, America (And, you know, every other country I suppose). Here is part two of my newest story, "The Feathered Egg"! Enjoy here or on my Wattpad.

Part II of "The Feathered Egg" - The Boatman's Song

Crispel Habok was a large man, and though his excitement about his daughter’s wedding was boundless, his purse was not. These things in conjunction made it impossible for him to find suitable wedding clothes, and for that reason, he could not attend. Amya, upon discovering this, declared that she would not cross the Great Water without him. Their love, admirable though it may have been, ensured that Yadia would have to cross the Great Water alone, just as her sister had one week prior. The difference was that Sasia would be greeted by a husband, while Yadia would be greeted by no one. Still, she was not afraid, and she was not upset with her parents for their decision. Truth be told, this passage would be much cheaper, and it set Yadia at ease to know that she would not need to sell as much fish as she had previously thought. She wasn’t sure how long her talents would reign in the marketplace, so fewer wedding clothes to buy was good news.
She did relish in buying her own, however. She settled on a bright goldenrod set with a matching veil, scarlet hand-embroidered details, and twinkling anklets in the same deep red hue as the thread holding it all together. It was blinding beside her other clothes from Munkai Island, but at the floating barn of Castor, she knew that she would be little more than another face in the rainbow of wedding goers. Her clothes would pale in comparison to the jeweled splendor of a Castor wedding. She expected that she may well go blind within a fortnight.
All that aside, she felt like royalty when her mother’s eyes grew as round as saucers beholding her other daughter dressed in such lavishness.
“Oh Yadia,” she breathed. “Perhaps one of the men there, at the floating barn, perhaps--”
“Mother.” Yadia smiled sadly. “I will not scout a husband at my sister’s wedding. No man will give me a second look, we both know that.”
“He need only look twice to see you,” her mother said softly. “And with Sasia married, perhaps more people will. You are not all that plain, you know.”
“I know,” Yadia said, though she did not quite believe it. She did not mind being the plain sister. It was much preferable to being on display.
“Leave your veil loosened.” Amya fingered the light fabric of the scarf as she spoke. “Let them see you, even if they do not choose to look.”
Yadia was confused by her mother’s words, as she often was, so she just smiled and pulled a few strands of dark hair forward so that it was visible. It was the same deep mahogany of her eyes, and with the bright yellow beside it, she could admit that she did look pleasant. She knew, though, that “pleasant” would not be enough to draw the eye of a man attending such an extravagant event. But that was all right with her.
She gave her luggage, such as it was, to her navigator. He was a scrawny man missing several teeth in his crumbling mouth. When he smiled, his eyes and gums both glittered black. She was not altogether comfortable with the man her father had chosen to convey her across the Great Water, but she had no other choice. She must get to Sasia. It may be the last time she ever saw her sister, given that her rich husband would not likely make a habit out of traveling to Munkai Island. Still, she tucked a small filleting knife from the HABOK tent into her slipper, wrapped in a rag. She could dress a large fish in under a minute, so she imagined that a man wouldn’t hold up all that well against it.
Goodbyes were shorter with Yadia than they had been with her twin. Her parents looked grayish, like worn out rags in dingy dishwater. In other words, they were beginning to look like the rest of Munkai. Despite their lack of money and energy, there was no shortage of love. Her father kissed the top of her head, and her mother even looked a bit tearful as her boat sliced through the water and into the fog. Once her parents were out of sight, Yadia withdrew her little blade, hiding it in her sleeve for safekeeping.
The fog was all-consuming. Not seeing was something that Yadia was used to, but the utter silence, the stillness of the world, was something that she was unprepared for. It made her shiver under her gauzy sleeves, pulling her veil closer to her neck. It was even worse when the boatman began to sing. The song was low and mournful, in the language of another island, not the common one. Its foreign intonations made her feel inexplicably sad and thoughtful, but at least it distracted her from the oppressive mist.
It was said that the floating barn of Castor was staffed by one hundred people hand-chosen by the family. They even lived in cozy cells within the barn for all their lives. It was a thought that Yadia could not seem to get from her mind, and she wished she could. She had no experience but that which she learned from her father’s fishing business. The one thing that the floating barn did not raise? Fish. It was ridiculous to think that her sister could somehow get her a job there; people on all the islands of the Great Water wished for the same, she knew.
The only difference is that the other people of the Great Water don’t have Sasia as a sister, she was reminded by an unbidden thought. Soon to be Lady Castor, she corrected herself. She wondered whether she would be allowed to call her sister by her first name after the union. She hoped so; there was no chance that she would stop using her twin sister’s first name. It was her favorite word to say, from the moment she could speak. She felt a smile touch her face as she remembered that for her sister, her own name was the most important word in their language. Yadia’s first word had been “no,” and Sasia’s had been “Yadia.” It said a great deal about them both.
Yadia reclined against the rough stern of the little vessel, letting the mist in the air form little droplets on her eyelashes. Through the droplets, the world looked shiny and sparkling instead of dull and gray. It helped her fight off the anxiety from the boatman’s song and drift off to sleep.