Rewriting THE LONG ROAD – Week 10

seriously, maps for days

seriously, maps for days


This is the tenth in a series of posts about the redrafting process of THE LONG ROAD which will be composed and published as I rewrite the book. The other posts in this series are here.

To recap, my goal from last week was:

By this time next week I should have a bunch more character outlines in the can. And maybe this weekend – barring a terrible toddler flu resurgence – I will get a chance to draw some maps.

What actually happened:
Pretty much exactly what I set out to do! I made much progress on character bios:

*pats on own back, gives self a treat*

*pats on own back, gives self a treat*

I’m over halfway done, and the character bios continue to be useful. I am making an effort to keep my eyes on the prize, but I am getting carried away. A lot of these characters reappear, and have lives before and after this story, and I am writing those into the character bios, too, even if that information isn’t immediately useful.

BUT the big thing this week was maps! Maps everywhere! Or, more precisely, one map annotated a bunch of different ways!

Maps! They don't love you like I love you!!

Maps! They don’t love you like I love you!!

So what I’ve done here is I drew and painted a watercolor map of southern Aerdh over the weekend, which I then scanned at work (because work has a readily available scanner and my scanner at home is unreliable to say the least) and popped into powerpoint. The map I painted was bare so that I had maximum flexibility to mess around with borders, character routes, etc, digitally. Which means that I have several different types of maps of the same region: the basic outlines of countries at one point, after the war, important war landmarks, etc.

As for the mechanics, they are as follows:

marvel at my powerpoint skillz

marvel at my powerpoint skillz

I used the scribble feature under shapes to mark out the boundaries. Once I had them set, I selected all of them at once and grouped them so they were easier to manage. And then I duplicated slides with the boundaries in place to do the different kinds of maps. Voila!

For completion’s sake, I stuck one of the basic maps in the Aerdh Bible for reference:



Note to self: Stick the timeline in here, too, while you’re at it, champ.

The other thing that happened this week is that I’ve begun to revisit The Prince of NorsaI had a lovely beta reader express interest, but it was written in word and getting the manuscript in a neat and tidy format in Scrivener is a bit of a chore. So, while I whip it into readable shape (getting it into a clean .mobi file), I’ve been poking at the text.

no maps here...yet

no maps here…yet

Now, one might say this is a distraction, but that person would be wrong. You see The Prince of Norsa intersects with The Long Road in some very meaningful ways. Characters wander from one book to the other. Actions in The Prince of Norsa have a direct effect on the state of things in The Long Road, and vice versa. Given the fact that I finished the first draft of The Prince of Norsa back in October, which has given me some eight months away from it, and given that the books are so intimately linked, I would say it is, in fact, not a distraction at all to work on them in tandem.

So, next week. Well, timelines are done. Maps are done. I suppose I should just finish out these last character bios and use this space next week to sketch out some next steps.

All project descriptions are up!

Descriptions are available for all completed projects, both those in submission and those that need beta readers!

NaBloPoMo: Short little pat on the back post today

Since moving to Colorado five months ago, I have written just over 100,000 words. I know this because I have a somewhat elaborate spreadsheet in which I track my writing. What those 100,000 words have managed to do is finish the first draft of Iiva – no small feat – and get about a third of the way into the second draft of Ariah.

Good on me.

When Writing is Hard

About a month ago, I finished a book I will call Iiva. Iiva was, in no uncertain terms, a bitch to write. I didn’t so much write Iiva as it tore itself out of me piece by piece. Writing it felt like violence.

Usually, writing is easy. I have a quick tongue and a quick mind, and I am not known for my brevity. Usually, writing is a joy. I find it affirming and restorative. I come across as hard-bitten and polemical, and I can’t say with honesty that such descriptions are inaccurate, but those parts of me are borne of a deep optimism. Optimism is too strong a word: let’s call me hopeful. I am hopeful that transformation is possible. I am hopeful that resistance and resilience carry in them the seeds of justice.

Iiva made a mockery of this, because just as deeply entrenched in me is a bitter cynicism. Iiva is a book with teeth and claws. Iiva is a book about what I could have been, and what I have been, and what I am sometimes afraid I will turn out to be.

There were times I didn’t want to write it anymore, but I kept at it because I’m stubborn and because it’s a good book. I tried to soften the blow by out-thinking the ending, but the ending refused to be out-thought. There was a distinct moment when it became clear to me that it had to end the way it did. If it didn’t, the book was a fraud. It hit me like a slap, the kind of vicious backhand that comes when you least expect it.

There were times when the writing drained me, dredged up things I would have rather left unearthed, and Iiva left me tender and sullen. It was a book that quieted me. I have always seen story telling as a potent form of communication, a way of building connections between me and someone else. But this time, I’m not sure I want that connection built. I don’t know that I want people to read this side of me. This is the first time I’ve ever held something private after finishing it. With every other book I could not wait to thrust it into the hands of someone as soon as the last word is written.

I couldn’t have written this book a year ago. Maybe not even three months ago. For the first time in my life I feel safe and secure; it no longer feels like the sword of Damocles is about to come crashing down. It’s a new and very strange feeling, and it’s only in the newness and strangeness of it that Iiva could be written. But part of me wishes this book had stayed dormant. Iiva made me face demons. I did it; I faced them, but they stared back, uncompromising and unflinching.

They certainly were not exorcised. They stared back and smirked. It takes a lot of humility to let your demons smirk at you, and Iiva  is drawn from that humility. I didn’t exorcise them, but Iiva made me acknowledge them, and made me live with them, and that took the sting out of them just the tiniest bit. Iiva was a sadistic, cutting bastard of a book, but it helped me heal a little, and for that it was worth seeing all the way through to the end.