As I mentioned previously, I’ve been busy finishing up my current project, and so have been somewhat quiet on this blog lately. It has been a difficult novel to write, and the ending proved to be the most difficult part of all. I don’t expect any book I write to be easy, and this was no exception. First of all, it is told in 1st person, present tense, and the main character is a viking princess. As I am neither a viking nor a princess, this proved to be a challenging character to get inside. There were many times where I said to myself, “Just make it easier and tell the thing in 3rd person.” But that is not what the story called for. That was not the voice I heard telling it.
The other difficulty came from the story itself. I felt a constant sense of tightrope-walking, of balancing tensions and contradictions. The novel is set in ancient Norway, but is not historical. It involves Viking warriors, but the main character never goes to sea. It is mythic, but not a fantasy. It is a mystery, but in the end the answer to the mystery isn’t what’s important.
That’s all I’ll say about it for right now. I’ve sent it off to my agent and editor to see what they think. I’ll send it to a few trusted readers for their feedback. And then in a couple of weeks I’ll come back to revise it. I think it’s about 85% there. I don’t really think in terms of drafts. Until the book is done, it’s just a building under construction, with some wings complete, and others still scaffolded and covered in fluttering plastic.
But the interesting thing has been finishing a book that has already sold. At the end of last year, I sent a partial manuscript to my editor. She liked it, and so Scholastic bought it along with another, unnamed novel. The idea that I was now essentially being paid to write, rather than writing and hoping to be paid, was a shift in thinking for me. A few years ago, Martine Leavitt gave me one of the best pieces of writing advice I have ever received. She said, “Give yourself permission to treat writing as a career.” Which I really tried to do, even though I wasn’t published and it didn’t yet feel like a career. But now it does.
While I let this new book rest for the next few weeks, I hope to blog a little more regularly. I have a couple of friends who have been waiting very patiently for me to read their manuscripts, stories I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t had the time. I hope to do some work on a new website I’m designing and trying to build myself (we’ll see how that goes). And then there’s my next book, which I’ll probably start researching for and thinking about. So I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.