Today, my very first book idea turns 17, which means that the book itself is now the same age as the book’s protagonist. Needless to say, this has me very in my feelings.
I’d gotten into a groove of writing about where I’m at in my Alterian journey each Feb 9th for the past few years, but I didn’t manage to write one last year because, well, 2020, ya know? This time last year I was still recovering from a hospital visit and dealing with a lot of issues at home, which were then made worse when the pandemic hit us in full force in March. But since then, there has been so much progress I’ve made on this series, and so I felt a returning to tradition was in order. So here’s how me, Piper, and Alteria are doing here in the year of our Lord 2021.
As I wrote about in the fall, I am now up to draft five of this book, STILL THE STARS (formerly THEY ARE THE LAST). I spent the autumn slowly chipping away at that draft, which was my first attempt at writing a full novel in verse. I finished it in October, just in time to apply for Pitch Wars 2020. And while I didn’t get selected as a mentee for that program, I have to say that these many months later, I’m still extremely happy with the creative work that came out of that time.
There was one agent I’d queried way back in 2017 who I decided to query again with the new version, and this time instead of a form rejection, I got a full request. While they ultimately decided to pass on it, that felt like a huge marker of growth for me. While I’m still out here getting rejections, at least I am interesting agents enough to want to read the whole book before saying no. I haven’t stopped pushing, even though so much of the time, imposter syndrome tells me I should quit.
As I sit here now, up to 61 rejections in on this book, things are feeling bittersweet. This newest draft feels so different from the others, and not just because of the change from prose to verse. With each subsequent draft, this book becomes more and more me, and that sometimes can make the rejections sting a bit more. It’s hard to keep in mind that these agents are just saying that my book isn’t the best fit for their lists, and not that I am a bad writer who will never be published, like my inner voice likes to argue.
The truth is, I am so very happy with this book as it exists right now. I know it still needs work. Edits, polishing, rearranging of some chapters and pieces. But for the first time, it feels like the whole book is there. I don’t think I will be doing any further full rewrites of the whole book itself, because the way it exists right now is just so close to what I always dreamed this book might be. Watch me probably have to eat these words later, but for now, it feels right. This book is weird and magical and intergallactic and hopeful and sad and yearning and poetic and mind-bendy and I just love it.
Every time I write one of these, I keep saying “I hope this is the year!” and while of course that hope is evergreen in me, I’m not putting any pressure on myself by putting it in writing. This year, I just hope that whatever needs to happen with this story, happens. If that’s more revisions, putting it down for a bit to work on other creative endeavors, or finally finding representation, I want my 17th birthday gift to Alteria to be some breathing room to just be for a while. Ever since I leaned full tilt into writing this thing in 2015, I’ve not really allowed myself to slow down. I’ve been GO GO GO for nearly six straight years, and so I think it’s time to send a few more queries, then take a breath, and wait and see.
So as this story comes of age before it’s even been released, the thing I feel the most is gratitude. I’ve loved every moment of this strange journey, and that even though it has already been so many years in the making, there’s one thing I know deep in my bones.
For Piper and I? This is still only the beginning.
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