Dear Pariah (A letter to my WIP)7:00 AM
*Warning: possible cheesiness ahead*
Almost exactly a year ago today, the evening of December 31st 2013, I sat down in a relative's chair, opened my laptop and brought up a Word document, and typed in 'Epilogue' at the top of the last page. I cried while I wrote that page or so long epilogue, because I had been working on this particular novel since September, and it had turned out to be so much more than I ever expected.
The whole thing started with a silly writing prompt. I thought I was writing a dystopian - but about a quarter of the way through I came across something called steampunk, decided it looked cool and I wanted to try it out, and went with it with no idea of what I was getting myself into. So my main characters - Sachi, the Cockney street thief/aspiring aeroplane pilot who's very close to my heart now, and Ize, my lovely mute assassin - were thrown into a clockworky adventure that went the way of all first drafts and absolutely sucked. It wasn't a great story and I knew it, but I got sucked into it all the same, and better than that, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was great fun to write. Something new, something I hadn't tried before, something that I thought could work out.
There was a good reason I cried over that epilogue. I learned a lot, actually, over the months I wrote that novel. I learned things about writing from the process that hadn't sunk in before. I learned things about steampunk and a little thing called 'this isn't physically possible to endure'. I learned lots of things about myself, oddly, along with those characters that I came to grow so attached to. To this day, I'm closer to them than anyone else I've ever written. The epilogue was as happy as cheesy happy epilogues can get, but it was upsetting because the journey with Sachi and Ize and all the rest was over.
Then I decided to revise and edit this particular steampunk novel, and I discovered I wasn't anywhere near to being over. Sachi and Ize were so much deeper than I ever thought. My villain had motivation for the first time. Plot holes smoothed themselves out, and of course new ones came up. The second draft was a rush and I enjoyed it, and came out of it knowing even more than before. By then, I knew this was something I wanted to take as far as I could, so I did. I took the semi-decent second draft, thought for a while, and just recently in fact dashed out a third draft with a whole new plot that made everything better than ever - at least, I think it does.
All that has taken just about an entire year. Tomorrow, I'm going to sit down and start draft four, which will bring more plot changes, deeper characters, and a tighter manuscript than ever before. I couldn't be more excited about it than I am right now. These characters are real enough to be best friends and siblings to me: I know their secrets and their lives and who they are, and in a strange way that sums up what I love about writing, they've taught me things for sure. Or maybe we've learned them together. (I told you this would be cheesy. Don't say I didn't warn you.) It's a totally different plot now, but that's okay; it suits them better anyway. I've even got a title now: This little project of mine is called Pariah. I never thought I'd even have a title for the thing so I'd say stuff is going pretty great already.
It's not at all the same novel it was when I started it. It's gone from 86k to 75k to 98k and who knows where it'll end up now. But I'm super excited to find out, and hopefully have a whole second year with Pariah. Probably more, because it's not anywhere close to being polished up. Painful thought it is, though, I like to look back at past drafts fondly every so often, so I thought I'd share the last bit of that cheesy, awfully written, first draft epilogue with you, because I do still love it in all its sentimental glory. (I think I deserve something for this - it's making me cringe thinking about someone other than me reading this.)
He doesn’t stop laughing until he’s a good distance away, and I’m in my plane. I allow myself a smile as I strap in, put the goggles on, and feel the engine hum beneath me as I start the flight sequence. It’s time to touch the sky again, and this time, who knows what will happen? The future’s a big uncertain mess, just like it’s always been, but there’s home at the end of it all…and plenty of adventures to come.
As it turns out, that last little bit was super true, and I didn't even know it a year ago. I didn't expect this future, and I still don't know what's going to happen. And there have, indeed, been plenty of adventures for Sachi and Ize and me, and I'm hoping for lots more to come.
So thanks for that.
|Ignore the context and enjoy the Sherlock GIF.|