There are few things in life that are certain. But some things are, like death, taxes, and me writing a blog post on Alteria’s birthday.
That’s right. Today is that shiny day again. It is becoming an interesting tradition, one I started in 2016, after a life changing trip to Scotland that brought me back to my heart’s oldest story. Piper’s.
For the new and uninitiated, Piper is a young woman who finds herself on a quest across the universe to find her family, and maybe even herself. Cheesy one line way to describe it I know, but I keep it vague only because in these past few years since deciding I wanted to focus on this trilogy, the story has evolved so much. It no longer looks a thing like it did back in December of 2015 when I finished the first draft and then tried to fund it on Inkshares. It is wildly removed from the second draft, which I completed in summer of 2017, before taking a long break to write the first draft of the sequel, which I finished a year ago this week. Calling this shit an adventure was not hyperbolic, cause goodness hasn’t it been.
So that brings us to this past year. The second half of 2018, I really went through it. I kept trying to finish the third draft, at one point tried to start writing the first draft of the third book, and at another point thought (foolishly so) that I could write both drafts at once. Lessons were definitely learned about what I can and can’t take on at once.
But the biggest thing that helped the story’s growth last year, was rejection.
I added three more rejection letters to my ever growing list. I was really saddened by some, as they were flat rejections from agents that I reeeeeally look up to and admire, and dreamed of working with. But in the long run, 6 rejections barely brushes the surface, when I know so many others are out here getting over 100 before landing their agent and then making their way to The List. Every journey is so radically different, that comparing one writers quest to another feels less like apples and oranges and more like apples and unladen swallows.
It was the most recent rejection though, and a majorly important conversation with one of my closest friends, that changed everything.
I got to meet one of my dream-est of agents for a split second at Book Con, tweeted her about it, and then in short order, she kindly got back to me. It was another rejection, but one that encouraged I make the story more personal. She offered insight about how the narration felt too removed, and how it made the story feel more vague than most readers would find engaging. It was a bit broken by it at the jump, fearing it meant all the things my anxiety has been screaming at me for years…
See, you suck! Your story is the worst! No one likes your characters! There’s no plot! This is trash! You’ll never be a good enough writer!
Thankfully, reason took hold after the chat with my friend, and I was able to take the rejection for what it really was—a helpful, and encouraging piece of criticism that would only serve to strengthen my story should I choose follow it.
My story, and me, are all the better for it.
The final thing that helped catalyze certain things that felt missing, was the thing that surprised me the most… poetry. As I worked most of last year to fund, publish, and promote my first book of it, I started rethinking things about Alteria’s universe as it related to my poetic work. I took a risk, and decided to make Piper a poet as well. It was something that only strengthened my bond with the character, and since peppering that in, this full third draft I am working on feels radically stronger, even if it will still need tons of revisions once its done.
As it stands right now, I have the second and third act of the book to finish so this rewrite/third draft will be completed. There’s a very good chance that I could be done as early as next week. Then there’s also a chance that I could be done several months from now. The thing I’ve learned most on this journey is that this. stuff. takes. time. Lots of it. Almost always more than you think. I’m learning day by day to be okay with that.
Once this draft is done, I have a nice, big batch of agents that I am looking forward to finally querying. There could be a ton more nos, maybe some maybes, and perhaps if the time is right, that one yes I’ve been waiting for. One can only hope.
But either way, I am so grateful for Piper. Writing her and the story of her world helps me grow every single day. She’s been my constant companion through all of the hardest things life has thrown at me in the last 15 years, and as weird as this might sound to say, I feel like we make each other stronger. Writing about all the times she has faced down her demons helps me face mine. And whether it takes another year or five to get her story out there, I’m good with that. Because until the time is right, at least we’re in this together. Happy anniversary, kiddo, and I’ll see you at the bridge. 😉