I Forgot How to Write a Book
The trouble with writing a series for so long
I'm late. I know. I KNOW. And I feel like poop because of it. Apologies. I like being consistent with when these newsletters get to you, and it causes me a lot of stress when life comes at me a smidge too hard and I fall behind. Adulting is overwhelming me at the moment with all the very adult things. I'm sure you know the feeling, and if you're feeling it right now, I’m sending you hugs. BUT I've managed to come up for air just long enough to do a doodle and write this wee little post.
Which is a miracle because the question I'm asking today is - do I even know how to write anymore?
As the release of the paperback for my fantasy middle grade series The Bear House: Scales & Stardust approaches (November 14!), and I muddle my way through the messy middle of my new WIP, I find myself struggling to remember how to write at all.
That's the thing about writing a series that comes to an end - if I'm not writing for that specific world, the one that the entire series took place in, hundreds and hundreds of pages - do I even know how to write something else?
For the last few years, I have been consumed by the world of The Bear House. I love this story, the characters. It is the book of my heart more than any before or since. Maybe because I lived in this world throughout all of Covid. The pandemic held some hard winter months for all of us and for me it was cold days in a tiny house with my husband, two little guys, two dogs, as well as a massive Hemoth bear called Alcor, a couple spoilt princesses, a haughty dragon, and a pack of hunting dogs. Through everything going on during those days, they all kept me sane.....well....focused anyway.
And now, with the paperback for Scales & Stardust about to come out, I find myself looking to what's next. And I am struck by how desperately I want to sink back into this world that's occupied my thoughts for so long, scared to devote myself to something new. Am I ever going to connect with a cast of characters, realize a world as thoroughly as I did for my Hemoth bears? And what if I don't? I'd written fantasy and sci fi stories prior to The Bear House. But Bears was different from the start…. like I'd actually lived this world in some alternate universe. But back when I started writing it, having written other stories before, the possibility of being scared to write something new when I finished could never have entered my orbit of thought. I’ve always come up with stories! All my life. All the time. Stories have always floated into and out of my mind, some staying, some moving on. And some - like Bears - plant themselves in the meat of the brain and refuse to shake loose.
As I write my new WIP, I find myself having to think harder about everything. How the main characters would react to different scenarios. What they'd say. How they’d lie to themselves. How they’d change. For the characters of The Bear House, I just know. I barely have to think at all at this point. The same way I know my brother, my parents, my best friend, I don’t have to work hard to imagine what they’ll say and do. Why should writing about new characters, another world, be so much harder?
Because I don’t know them yet.
That familiarity that I have with the cast of The Bear House - I keep having to remind myself - is because I did the hard work a long time ago. I did all the difficult stuff before the pandemic when I wrote the first draft. I spent the time I needed to get to know them and bake them into full and complete characters. A lot of time. That’s all part of the work in writing a first draft…and the second and third.
And now I need to do that work again.
Getting to know a new main character can be a lot. Kinda like making new friends, it can be scary and intimidating, especially when you’re looking at page one and know, you KNOW there’s at least 300 more to go with a whole lot of plot and action and “what’s it all about, kid?” to figure out as well. But that work - the work of getting to know your main characters is so so worth it. And just like making new friends, I have to trust that I do indeed know how to do it. Its just about putting in the time.
WHAT I’M WORKING ON
In case you couldn’t tell from the post - I’m writing! Well, trying to. I’m doing the work to get through the messy middle of my WIP and its grueling and painful but also exciting as I stretch my drafting muscles and try to get this draft done for the end of the year (which is like, TOMORROW).
I’m also working on a proposal package for my mermaid graphic novel, and that’s my relaxing happy place. And because it’s my relaxing happy place, there’s never enough time to work on it. But I’m chipping away. This one was also supposed to be ready for the end of the year so…will need to start ramping up.
Speaking of the end of the year - can you believe how fast we have to start thinking about the holidays right after Halloween? It always takes me by surprise and needless to say, I’m already behind. I’m working on a couple commissioned illustrations for holiday cards, which is always a lot of fun, but the clock is already ticking!
There’s only five chapters of Zombie Shark Highway left to go! If you haven’t caught up on the latest chapters, you can find them all here! Over the holidays I will be getting the next book in the series, Lava Cat Cruise Ship, ready to post and also hopefully, have the downloadable ebook for paid subscribers.
And finally, only a few days to go before the paperback for The Bear House: Scales & Stardust hits shelves! If you’ve read it or would like to, I’d be so grateful for your help to spread the word about this second installment in the series - reviews on amazon, goodreads or wherever you get your books, and posts on social media really do go a long way to helping readers find out about an book’s release :)
What I’m Reading
Cursed: an Anothology. Yes, we’re passed Halloween but this anthology had a story by Neil Gaiman and Charlie Jane Anders and was on sale. I couldn’t resist. And I REGRET NOTHING. There are so many good stories in here, from fairy tale vibes to horror. And one story about Wendy and Peter Pan by Christopher Golden that I absolutely adored.
Normal Women by Ainslie Hogarth. My dear friend Aislie’s new book is amazing and hilarious and because all my adulting and the halloweening, I didn’t get to fully dive in yet. The beginning had me lolling so I am excited to finish this one!
A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon. This one is the sequel to The Priory of the Orange Tree, an epic fantasy about DRAGONS that, like a lot of you, I really enjoyed. This one is a full on tome. Thick enough to sink a small boat so I have been chipping away at it and will be for some time.is quickly becoming one of my top fave substacks to read and I am always excited when I see a new post. This one about Moby Dick was great.
This post on self care from the ever-wiseof Agents & Books was what I needed to hear at this particular moment. about being a writer and the demands of ‘content’.
Oh! One more thing - ICYMI, I am running an international giveaway with Ferris Wheel Press on my instagram! You still have a couple days (til the 13th) to enter to win a fountain pen and bottle of ink - your choice of colour! I really love their inks as evidenced by my inktober posts, and was really excited for the opportunity to be one of their creative ambassadors to test out their new colours and share some giveaways with you guys! So if you’re looking to play with some inks, be sure to enter the giveaway.
And that’s it from me! Since I’m so late, I need to get the posting schedule back on track. So I’ll be hitting your inbox on the 20th as planned!