Almost done with Witchshadow. So close I can TASTE it. Then I can finally, finally spend some time with my wee bébé. 😭
This book has been difficult in a different way from past books. Sure, there were some personal difficulties with a miscarriage, IVF, and then an amazing but also objectively difficult pregnancy...and an amazing but objectively difficult birth. But what really slowed me with this book was all technical.
It was THE craft challenge of my life. I wanted Iseult to have two books, but for business reasons (very important ones I have no regrets or complaints about), I had to give Iseult only one book. And trying to make two books into a single book isn't just a matter of writing two, then smashing them together and tightening. That would lead to two back-to-back rising tension graphs in a single book, not to mention terrible pacing.
To truly combine two books into one, you have to instead find a single story with a single rising tension graph that then does all the plot, character growth, and story reveal work of two books.
In other words, everything I'd had planned for the last 7 years had to be tossed, and I had to start anew. I needed one story instead of two. I needed to get characters from point A to point C with no B along the way. And y'all, it wasn't easy.
I don't regret this in any way. I pushed my craft so hard. I learned to think outside the box (or think beyond, as Ryber would say 😉). I wrote and rewrote and rewrote again more times than I can count. Scene after scene got tossed, and at least once a week, I thought, "This is an unsolvable mess. I can't make it one book. It's impossible."
But I did it, and it was possible.
Bloodwitch came out in a rush of inspiration and emotion and cookie scenes that I'd been envisioning for 5 years. Witchshadow was a laborious, agonizing process of assembling ingredients with no recipe in hopes that I got cookies at the end. Then, when it was clear I wasn't making cookies, I threw it all out and started again.
And ultimately, I'm as proud of Witchshadow as I was of Bloodwitch—even more so, in fact. Best of all, I have an entirely new arsenal of tools at my disposal for future books and challenges.
So remember: no story puzzle is unsolvable. Period. You can always, always find a solution. It might require totally ditching what you'd planned or you'd written and then starting anew. It might require learning new ways of writing or working or thinking. It might require talking it out with writer friends a thousand times until they hate you. And it will most certainly require more brainstorming and deep, concentrated immersion.
But the answer is in that brain of yours. I promise.