Friday, 13 May 2011

DISASTER/TRIUMPH

Hi everyone! I'm sooo sorry for the delay in Friday's post - this was due to Blogger totally wiping out, with no warning. If anyone's been on Twitter today, you'll have seen the raft of infuriated comments about this. I'm very glad that I don't tend to draft posts in advance, because apparently many people have lost things that they had saved but not posted. A lot of bloggers lost comments too (this may have been what happened to you, Isabel, since this nonsense has been going on all week). Blogger is not popular right now.

Luckily I didn't have an mega-long or important post planned for you this Friday. I really just wanted to give you all an update on my progress.

Regular blog readers will remember that, back in February, I posted about attempting an ambitious and controversial storyline in my fourth book FrostFire...and failing. If you missed the original post, it's here: I Thought I Could Fly...So Why Did I Drown?

Basically, my editor was forced to reject the book because it didn't work. And it wasn't just the controversial part. My editor - very kindly, but very firmly - pointed out that in my intense desire to write a gay high fantasy, I had left a lot of other things, like characterisation and plot, on the wayside. I was devastated - a lot more than I could let on, even in that sadsack, emo-toast post right there (yeah, I know). But I had a ray of hope. My editor did like a lot of things about the story, and she was willing to work with me on revisions. And by revisions, I mean, completely re-writing the book FROM SCRATCH.

Based on my lovely editor's detailed comments, I wrote a new synopsis for the book encompassing major structural and character changes (including switching the genders of everyone in the story except the protagonist and one secondary character). My editor read the revised synopsis super-fast, and by late February I was armed with an even more detailed set of notes. I made the decision to change the POV of the story from third person to first, because I realised that although I had found a decent 'voice' for the story in third, I had never really gotten into my main character's head (this was a lesson to me, because before I hadn't realised that first person was so vital to me creating fully realised characters).

Between then and the end of March I wrote around 60,000 new words, crafting an entirely new beginning and middle section. I then re-wrote the end of the story and blended it into the new material. By April I was revising and polishing. I finished up with a manuscript of just over 100,000 words, which was 20,000 longer than the original version. I literally had no idea of the worth of the new manuscript. On one hand, I felt, deep down, that my editor's notes were good, and I had done my best to squeeze every bit of value out of them. On the other, I had re-read and revised every page so often that the thought of looking at it again made me groan. I'd reached the stage where I couldn't even recognise trees anymore, let alone figure out what a forest should look like.

I submitted FrostFire Mark Two to my editor in late April. And waited.

I've never felt so uncertain about the reaction a book was going to get since I sent The Swan Kingdom to my first editor back in 2005. I spent half my time convinced that my editor would be forced to reject it again, and the other half that, if I was lucky, she might be willing to give me more time to work on it some more.

What I didn't consider was that she might email me less than a month later (this Tuesday, in fact, in the afternoon) to tell me that she had picked the manuscript up the day before and read it practically non-stop, and that she loved it. LOVED it.

If you want to know what pure relief feels like, this is the kind of situation you need to get yourself in. I've never felt anything like it. I actually came over a bit dizzy and thought I might be sick. Then I starjumped and airpunched my way around the house for about half an hour before having a quiet sit-down with a mug of tea and some biscuits (this is the glamorous writer's life, I tell you).

And during that quiet sit-down, in the calm left behind by weeks of worry and hard work, I thought about FrostFire. I thought about that original draft, and about all the radical changes that came out in the second pass, and I realised that somehow, with my editor's help, I had now written the book I meant to write in the first place. Even though I'd gotten lost in trying to prove a point along the way, and messed up, and forgotten why I wanted to write this story, FrostFire Mark Two was the book it was meant to be. The terrifying, challenging, brilliant spark of story + character that originally flamed to life in my brain back in 2008 when I was working on the beginning of Shadows on the moon, had never really died. It had just banked its fire patiently and waited until the moment I was finally paying attention to burst forth again.

That, my beloveds, is what they mean by triumph born from disaster.

We'll be working on polishing and tightening FF up a bit more over the next couple of months, and hopefully FF will keep it's original publication slot in July of 2012. I'll be working on Big Secret Project too, to fill up the time - I'll tell you more about that when I can, but it might be a while.

In the meantime...anyone fancy starjumping with me? One, two, THREE!

13 comments:

Deva Fagan said...

WOO HOO! Congratulations! I think I need to bookmark this post for any time I need a jolt of inspiration about what dedication and drive and hope can accomplish!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Deva. Still feeling slightly shell-shocked about the whole thing myself, really - but it shows that there really IS always a silver lining.

Megha Z said...

Oh my gosh! Congrats, Zoe!!! I'm so super happy for you!

Blogger was working fine for me. I blogged yesterday (out of the whole week -- FAIL!) and it was fine. Well, anyhow, I'm glad it's working now! Maybe that's why the blogs I follow haven't been so active...

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks! And you are SO lucky to have avoided all the Blogger stress! I've not been able to get on since Tuesday, which makes me very glad that I posted Wed's post a day early (by mistake).

Isabel said...

Yes, Blogger has had some issues lately. I'm glad it's back to normal now. ;)

WHOOT!!!!! I am SO happy for you, Zoe -- at the part where you explained your reaction to what your editor said about FF I literally (LITERALLY) squealed and flapped my hands about in front of the screen. (Um... is this normal? I didn't think so...) And at the end there I actually PULLED BACK my chair and jumped. :) CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! See, it all works out in the end. :) I can't wait to read FF, no matter when it comes out!

Zoë Marriott said...

Whoot to you too! Thanks, Isabel!

Alex Mullarky said...

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Isabel said...

Oh yes, and I meant to tell you but Blogger wasn't working -- I hit 20,000 words last night!!!!!!!!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks for your enthusiasm, Alex! And well done Isabel.

Moi said...

Good work!

Zoë Marriott said...

Thanks, Moi!

Ashley said...

Hooray! So glad to hear that it's working out for you! Can't wait to read it, but... Well, you already know that! :) <3

Zoë Marriott said...

Getting closer every day!

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