On maturing as a writer.

Sunday morning I got notes on SHARDS back from one of my CPs. When it popped up in my inbox I looked a lot like this:

Except I didn’t look nearly as attractive as James Van Der Beek.

Basically, the gist of this particular set of notes is that my male characters are dreamy I just need to tweak some things and this thing should be ready.* Obviously, I’m still waiting on feedback from my other CPs, BUT STILL.

If you had told me that four years ago, I would have looked like this:

I promise I don’t spit take this much in real life.

I was barely 20 when I started the first draft of SHARDS. I didn’t even bother finishing it; I got about 35k words in before I realized I wasn’t feeling it and restarted it from scratch. I did complete that draft. It took me three years, but I finally sat myself down and forced myself to finish it.

One thing I noticed when I was reading through it last year was how much my writing changed over the course of the book. It…was not good. Word choice has never been a problem for me, but sentence structure? As I was reading, I could tell at what point in time I took my English classes because that gradually improved. I still love passive voice and dialogue tags pretty hard, but my sentences grew less convoluted – mostly because I finally figured out where I should be putting modifiers. (Side note: I didn’t even know what a modifier was until that post-bac quarter after I graduated. True story.)

But it’s not just the writing; it’s the story, too. There’s more depth to it. At first the whole story was just the reincarnation thing. Which was fine, I guess, but I realized things would fizzle out pretty fast unless I added some layers. So I added the politics. Then I added religious tension. Then I piled in some social and gender conflict, too.

I think that no matter what happens, I’ll always have a special bond with SHARDS. It isn’t the first novel I’ve completed, but it is the first one I’ve bothered to put in the work on, and it’s grown up along with me.

The past four years have been a lot of this:

But it’s been worth it, no matter what, because of all of the things I’ve learned.

*My male characters are really dreamy, though. Not that I’m biased.

I’m writing something new and it’s terrifying.

I’ve referenced it only briefly on the blog, but I finished revising SHARDS a week ago. While I’ve been playing around with the sequel, OPAQUE, I’ve also redoubled my efforts to finish a draft of FIRE because I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.

As it turns out, working on something that’s not SHARDS is terrifying.

I’ve been in the same world with the same characters for the past five years. Nilea is home and Calanthe, Vantandal, Ethan, and the rest are all my friends by now. I know these characters. I know how Nilea works. And now I’m starting something completely different with completely different characters I don’t know anything about, in an entirely different world I’m discovering alongside the characters. I guess the best way to describe it is it’s like my first day at a new school and everyone’s staring at me like I’m the new girl.

But all of the things that are terrifying about writing something completely new? Those are also the things that make it exciting.