Looking Back

April was an interesting month. It started off with absolute conviction–I was going to write War of the Hex immediately. Its first draft would be done in time for Age of Ultron and that was going to be awesome. The idea was, “I finished the first draft of Memory in a month, so why couldn’t I just do the same with Hex?

Turns out I couldn’t because I kept hitting a really emotional writing wall every single time I sat down to work on Hex. The total rewrite of my one long-time project actually erases nearly everything I created for its world in its Prologue. A page or two into the rewrite, I find myself introducing a character… and stopping to think, “Hey, couldn’t this be Kysius [one of the many obscure characters from the previous versions of the book]?” And the answer was always overshadowed by the immediate rush of the realization that, “It doesn’t matter. Even if this is Kysius, Kysius dies anyway because this character dies.” And… okay–one character dying when they hadn’t before is no real problem.

But my brain always followed up with the reminder that, “Everyone dies. Everyone you created who isn’t a protagonist dies. The towns you made–your map of Ashaiden (the background for your blog)? That’s all gone.”

Oh… Yeah. Right.

I was expecting to have a few thousand words done within the first few days of Camp NaNoWriMo. I tapped out (officially) at 733 words.

People throw the term around comically all the time, but April really was just too soon. Especially now that I’m back in the vortex of, “Am I doing the right thing with this story?” I think I am–I really do; every time I think of how War of the Hex unfolds, it makes me happy and excited to write it. But that excitement immediately comes with so much… mourning.

But, taking a step back, there are none of those problems with Memory, so, despite just dropping out of Camp NaNoWriMo, I still spent the rest of the month working on worldbuilding for Memory, which is just about done. For a while there, I didn’t think there would be an end; my casual worldbuilding file is 74 pages long at this point, fueled by me neurotically deciding that yes, I need to describe every single facet of everything in Panthius. I make it sound like horrible work, but of course it wasn’t–I’m a nerd. Why wouldn’t I enjoy establishing the Empire’s strange currency and totally over-analyzing the social weirdness that comes with it?

Regardless, May is The Last Draft of Memory Month. It absolutely has to be because brainstorming has dropped enough ideas that I’m starting to write when I’m not even at my computer; I started an additional scene earlier while washing dishes and was on the verge of just dropping plates back in the sink–maybe angrily shouting, “Rinse yourselves!” at them before rushing to my computer.

But, my well-established weirdness aside, I have a handful of prominent settings to flesh out today, and then tomorrow I get back to working on something that makes me feel amazing again.

What I took from April–failures and all? Three things:

First, no matter what happens with it, War is always going to be a tough topic for me. Even when I finish War of the Hex, I’m sure I’ll still look back at War of Exiles and lament how I couldn’t just save all of the great parts of it because they’re attached to so many bad parts. But, at the same time, that’s just who I am. I have to move on, which means getting a new background image for this blog.

Second, this month, I’m going to write outside, because even just going out for coffee made me really, really want to write. 30 Days of NaNoWriMo broke me; the leather armchair demands my enthusiasm for all things as the price for its comfort.

Third, I’m not trying to work on a bunch of projects at once anymore. It’s just not how I work. I said it once before that I’m out of time when it comes to getting published, and that still feels true; I feel like I’ve passed the point where I should’ve been picked up–like I’m living in a failed, backwards life, the pitch of everything strangely warped as it all shoots past me. But I’m still here–still writing. Still trying. And, in no way does that mean that it’s a time for experiments; I work with what works and that’s it. I will come back to War (of course), but for now, that Progress Bar is shrinking to two active items–at most–and submissions. From now on, it’s just the novel I believe in, the short story I believe in, and all of the rejections I’ve accrued.

Published by

Louis Santiago

I'm a fantasy writer based in New York. One of my short stories, "Aixa the Hexcaster," was published at Mirror Dance Fantasy. You can read it here: http://www.mirrordancefantasy.com/2016/09/aixa-hexcaster.html.

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