It’s NaNoWrimo again, and predictably, I’ve put up a novel with the intention of pounding out words, and instead I’ve started a new WIP, and ended up working on a novel from last year, and a prequel to Catskin, in addition to working on the one for this year.
I’m a multi-WIP girl, and I usually have at least two of them going at the same time. Whether they end up finished depends on the individual project. Sometimes, I just write until another WIP takes over the lion’s share of my brain pan. Other times, I finish a project entirely. The good part, though, is that nine times out of ten, when I go at a WIP this way, even if I don’t finish it, I’ve also cobbled together an outline (sometimes purely just so I can keep track of my own characters and their goals) and I’ve gotten immersed in the story enough that I can easily go back and pick up writing on it later. So even though these WIPs aren’t *finished* I don’t consider them to be toss-asides, either. They’re just ideas waiting in the wings. This also allows me to dabble in whatever genre or style the story requires. For example, my NaNo novel for this year, Grimalkin, is an adult fantasy, with cursing and sex. The one I’m working on from last year, Pohickery Girl, is a paranormal YA, clean read, and the new WIP is a magical realism/fantasy set in reality YA, which I *think* will be a clean read, but I’m not into the characters enough to be sure of that, yet. The prequel to Catskin is, of course, a contemporary YA, clean read.
So, writers, are you a single-WIP-at-a-time writer? Or do you just line up your ideas and attack them at will?
This leads me into question number 2, and that is, do you sit down and decide ‘I have a story idea, and it will be a ‘clean read’ or it will contain cursing and/or sex/sexual situations’? Or do you start outlining (or writing) and only decide the tone AFTER you’re into the book and characters? I, myself, don’t ever give much thought to cursing or sexual content, I just write the book. The only exceptions would be like the prequel to Catskin, which I’ve titled Astray. Obviously, I knew that if I wanted to write something to be published with Clean Reads, it needed to be, duh, a clean read, so naturally, it is. And anything I write with the idea of submitting to Clean Reads in the future (and I’d LOVE to keep publishing with them forever, even if I also publish elsewhere) will also be written clean. But what I changed within Catskin didn’t take away from the story. I didn’t settle with Catskin, the book naturally fell into a clean category. Or clean enough that all I needed to do was crop out a few curse words or references and it fit. I didn’t compromise any characters or personalities by changing them. This is one of the things I have always sworn, and will continue to swear, that I would never/will never do. If I have to change the fundamental nature of a character or book to fit, then I won’t publish it through that venue. Anyway, my point is, I don’t plot books, as a rule, to either be clean or contain stuff.
Do you intentionally plot your books to either be ‘clean’ or contain cursing and/or sexual situations? Or do you write them as they come out of you, and categorize them after the fact?
I’ll leave you with a little excerpt from my new WIP, Blooded. It’s contemporary, but with magical elements, and contains subjects I’ve long adored. Namely, faeries, and the Wild Hunt. Also, it was inspired by a Victorian era Opal ring I found in the trash. Here are the first three pages. Because I have numerous poems on the subject, I thought it would be fun to have them as chapter headers for this book, so each chapter hosts a short poem that hints as to the contents of that chapter.
Hoarfrost gilds the feral land
Crystals cast with an artist’s hand
Cryptic rooks in place of gemstones be
Feathered clots of ebony
Perched high above in treetop crowns
Fluttering over the heaths wild gown
A world of frigid beauty of ageless mystic grey
A world beyond our reckoning held in faery sway
The dirt of a place can lodge itself inside your blood and bones just as surely as it can pack beneath your fingernails and settle into the cracks of your skin. That’s the way it was from the first moment I set foot on Veil Mac Tíre. I was only six, but I still understood, maybe better than any adult could have, that I belonged to that land. At the time, I didn’t even know I was standing on Veil Mac Tíre. My insides, though, they recognized it like a homecoming.
We had just moved into a little stone cottage that was tucked up into the curving northern edge of the Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts. Though it wasn’t far south of Boston, and all the little townships and cities seemed smushed together in a never-ending riot of civilization, our cottage and the bit of land it was on, abutted the three thousand untamed acres of Veil Mac Tíre. The estate, in turn, ran along – and was indiscernible from – the some six thousand acres of the Blue Hill Reservation. For a child who was terrified of crowds, and strangers, and cities of any size, moving into that secluded cottage was a life-saving change for me.
Now, almost twelve years later, crowds and cities are still enough to bring me into a full panic attack, but I always have Veil Mac Tíre to come home to. And once I’m finished the last two classes I’m required to do into order to graduate high school, I’ll never leave the Veil again.
Ma is in the sunroom when I come downstairs. She’s always up as early as I am. You’d never know she wasn’t raised on a farm, and that she loves the roar of downtown Boston. If it wasn’t for me, we’d probably be living there right now. Just the thought of it is enough to make me shudder. It’s a sin, I’m sure, to be so glad that we have Toad Cottage, seeing as how my uncle died in order for us to get it, but I’m glad, just the same.
“Di, will you bring the pot down here and refill me?” Ma calls from down the hall.
“No, I can’t,” I call back. “Both my hands have just fallen off.”
Ma’s replying cackle of laughter echoes off the hardwood floors. I cross from the stairs into the kitchen. It’s not a large room, but it’s my favorite, with a wide hearth designed for cooking two hundred years ago, and a hug porcelain farm sink, stone counters, and an ancient wood cookstove which was wired for electricity long before it was the popular thing to do. The coffee pot sits on one counter, still mostly full. Daddy was on duty last night, so he’s not home yet. There’s always more work than there are firefighters.