It didn't FEEL right...and that's where it all started.
Well, actually, it all started with October. This has been the crappiest, most challenging month EVER. Seriously. I don't know how I'm still breathing and really, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and disappear. Or sell all my belongings and go live on a street corner in London. (but that option seems less safe as winter approaches.)
I won't go on a rant about all the ways life has been slowly plucking away at my sanity (just know there are many) and instead I will say: I get to re-start book two. This really should be no surprise, but gosh does it suck.
I had some of my CPs read it, and they liked it, but the four hours I would spend staring at the screen and trying to write a single sentence, well, that was my first warning that something was wrong. When a story is right it flows. Sure, there are rough spots, but it's natural. Rule of thumb: if you have to force your story then you are telling it wrong, or doing something the character doesn't like/wouldn't do.
Anyway, I'm almost at 20k and really proud, when I realize something is wrong. The story isn't flowing. And while I couldn't tell anyone what was wrong--which is always the worst, worst, worst part of it--I felt it. I felt it when I talked about the story. When I tried to write. When I read it. It was WRONG.
Then I had people ask me some hard questions. And I really had to think about what I'd always planned for this story to be--not just the arc of this book, but the character arc. And I cried. (A LOT, as goes my October.) I took notes. I asked questions. I really thought about what I wanted to do, and not how the hell I was going to fix it. I mean, I had the whole book plotted and I like it, on paper, so what is the problem? I should be able to do this. Simple: something felt wrong.
I asked twitter what to do when it felt wrong. Jessica Spotswood said "I go back to the last place it felt RIGHT and make different choices. Usually, I took a wrong turn somewhere."
ding ding ding!!
I thought about it, and I don't think it ever felt "RIGHT." Now, yes, some pieces of the story felt like the could still work, but the whole overarching story arc--that was never any good. I couldn't pinpoint anything about it that felt like my story. So, therein lie the problem. I don't think I was telling the story I wanted to tell, the story my MC wanted to tell, and it wasn't working. It felt wrong.
What did feel right?
Well, I'm still not entirely sure. I have some ideas, all of which center around my MC and her journey, but I have no idea what the rest of the picture is. I don't know. I'm still figuring it out. But the funny part is even though I don't have the answer, I know that stopping and changing direction is good because it feels right.
Change is hard. Especially when you have a deadline and pressure and you have a beautiful wall full of multi-colored post-it notes. But when something is wrong, trust it. Starting over after 20k sucks. Rewriting seven times sucks even more. Telling the story that you don't want to tell would suck worse than that. Obviously, I'm still working on telling the right story. But, despite all my angst and all the tears and stress over the last couple days, I can tell I will find it. Somehow. Some way.
Writing is hard. Life is hard. "Everything will work out," is the cliche I'm clinging to in both scenarios.