1) Book 3 has a name, and it is "The Cost." The title was harassing me while I wrote, cropping up repeatedly until I finally went, "Oh, I see--you're trying to tell me your name. Fine, calm down, already."
2) First draft of The Cost= completed. I finished it yesterday. I wrote the last sentence, changed around a word or two, and then didn't feel anything else coming afterward. My brain went, Wait, is this it? and my mouth hung open a little. Then I clicked Save and proceeded to run around my house shouting with glee. My cats gawked at me with giant pupils, but I screamed nonetheless.
So what happens now? Well, you know the drill. I went straight to OfficeMax and printed all 418 pages (how in the world did it get so long?). The stack of paper is sitting on the floor beside my desk, calling for me to dive into it, but I'm resisting. Resistance is futile. I've already combed through the first couple of pages and found 1 error. And I did that in the parking lot of OfficeMax. I'm being stern with myself now, however. I won't touch it for a week or two, allowing my mind to digest and refresh. Then it's back to my favorite grind of editing. This is the roughest first draft yet, complete with pages of straight dialogue without any mention of tags; brackets that say ["X" happens here]; and a whole escape from a prison where I have yet to figure out how exactly the escape occurs. I did the whole [she escapes] thing, and then proceeded to what happens afterward. Needless to say, I'm a bit frightened to begin approaching this book. I'm also ecstatic, of course.
The end is near, folks. I'll finish The Cost, and then comb through Trace and Integer for any discontinuity. And then...Whitewashed will be done.
Let's not talk about that quite yet.
*Anamnesis has since been changed to Whitewashed, but I wanted to keep this post to remind all readers (mainly myself) that stories change and grow and develop, and that's not a bad thing.*
First, it is a real word. Merriam-Webster says it is a "recalling to mind." It is a memorial, a remembrance.
Second, it is the official title of my collective trilogy. The Trace, The Integer, and The Cost now belong to Anamnesis. How possessive of you, Anamnesis.
Initially, I thought that Integer was going to be called The Anamnesis, but then I decided that the word was too grandiose to belong to a single book. With all the depth and meaning attached to the word "anamnesis" (which IS a word, computer, so stop doing the squiggly red underline!), how could it fit a single book? It couldn't, so I stole the word and gave it to the whole trilogy, formerly called Evolution. In the end, Evolution was too small, and didn't quite apply any longer. Once I got to the final book, I realized what I was trying to accomplish with this trilogy, and so Evolution lost its meaning and Anamnesis took over.
I am super excited about this, although my tongue gets tied every time I try to tell people about Anamnesis. "So I'm writing this trilogy called Anam-eh-nem-e-sis." Then, when I do pronounce it correctly, people are still confused, because no one has heard of this word. Why doesn't anyone know this word?! It's so cool! It deserves to be known. I don't really have a right to judge, because I didn't know what it was, either, but now that I know, it has become my mission to ensure that everyone knows this word. Therefore, I shall now direct you to Wikipedia for a more thorough explanation. The word also happens to have a religious meaning that I find very cool.
So, why is this trilogy called Anamnesis? All I can say is...spoilers.
No, this post is not about the Relient K song. It's an honest piece about the fact that, sometimes, I feel like I'll never be done writing.
Here's what happened.
I decided that, for my first serious approach to writing, I was going to start with a trilogy. (Note: this was a really dumb idea.) Sure, I'd begun about twenty books before. I'd even completed a draft of one or two. I'd never, however, decided that I was going to pursue a book to its total and final completion. Then came The Trace, an idea that festered and stuck around long enough to reach its conclusion. Thus, my first time writing a book that I really wanted to finish, was a complicated trilogy that only got more convoluted the more I wrote.
Characters make a story. Every reader and writer knows this. That is why creating characters is such a scary, intimidating, and stressful endeavor. It's also pretty great.
I have a few favorite characters from Whitewashed (halfway there!). Ella is my automatic number one because she's the protagonist and she's been with me for so long. Of course I have to say she's my favorite–and, well, she is. Besides her, my favorites vary between a few others, people who are goodies and baddies. Sometimes, depending on my mood, I might prefer one character over another. A constant, however, is Ethan.
When I first started writing The Trace, the main characters were totally different than they wound up being in my final draft. Ella was shallow, Kara was selfish and rude, and Ethan was the angsty, brooding, impatient guy with anger problems–the male love interest every teen has come to expect from a YA novel. He was short with Ella, cryptic, and a little possessive. Why was he like this? Because those were the types of male characters I'd read about, and I thought that was all a teenage guy could ever be.
Initially, his name was "Ian." Actually, I guess his name was originally "Josh" because all my male characters from childhood were named "Josh." Josh turned into Ian, a rude guy I didn't really like.
My favorite part of writing has come: the part where I've finished an entire rough draft of a book and am now ready to begin editing the crap out of it. This has only happened once before, so I'm still not used to the feeling. It's a really exciting feeling.
I'm going to be real blunt with you. The state of Book Two (whose name has unfortunately not yet appeared to me) is rough. Imagine waking up and seeing that your hair has grown secret rooms amid the tangles. Imagine throwing spaghetti and pine cones into a bowl. Then transfer those images into a Microsoft Word document and call it "Adelaide's Rough Draft."
I think it started out okay. A year ago, I was pretty optimistic in my ability to stay concentrated on a single scene before moving onto the next one. That was clearly before I became a real person, a real person who isn't patient and apparently has no attention span (when did that happen to me?). As I struggled to tell myself that I was the type of person who could successfully write a complete scene that was fully woven into the rest of the book, I remembered that I'm a holistic lady. I gotta see the whole picture before I can figure out what's wrong with it. That's when I started saying, "Okay, this scene is crappy and rushed, but keep moving before your eyes fully expand out of your head." Once I'd repeated that enough times, I was able to stop over-analyzing the current scene and move on to the next. That's when my pace picked up quite dramatically.
When I wrote The Trace, I put everything in there. I fully developed each and every idea without considering whether that idea had a place in the book. That's why my first draft was like, erm, 160,000 words...The polished version is around 101,000, I believe. What's interesting to me is that Book 2 is around 88,000. I think that's a good thing. Better to start out with less and build upon it, rather than have too much excess that just confuses you. That's what happened with The Trace. That poor book was a huge mess that needed about 403 drafts in order to be anywhere near complete.
Anyway, when I told Nate that I'd finished the first draft for Book 2, his response was, "You mean you finished your rough draft." Nate is the one who taught me that, just because something says "The end", doesn't mean it's anywhere near finished. I didn't understand the concept of drafts until Nate demanded to see the second draft of one of my school papers, and I just blinked in response. Second draft? What is that, some upper level software term along the same lines as interface and matrix?
Nope, it's something that every single writer in the world understands.
I like to say that the mangled thing that is Book 2 is my first draft; Nate says it's my rough draft. I don't know who is right. Probably him. At any rate, it's a draft, and now it's time to go to Staples and see if the printer guy remembers me from before. All 368 pages will be spewed from the mouth of The Printer and into my welcome arms. Then I get to carry a cardboard box around with me that is stamped CONFIDENTIAL so that people passing me on the streets will look at me with envy and wonder how important I must be, to be happily toting a confidential box. When I open said box, its contents might throw up on me. That will have to be okay. I will begin to tear apart said contents of said box. Highlighters will be depleted, lines will be deleted, and, hopefully, a book will be completed.
That rhyming was unintentional, but it was cool. Rhyming is cool. Like bow ties.
This cover is just a simple idea that I wanted to share because I think it's cool. I also have no concept of what makes a book cover look "good," so I'm not sure how valid my approval is. But alas, take of it what you will!
This is something that I've thought about for a long time. A longgg time. Long like the Nile.
Remember how I established earlier my un-artisticness? Yes, well, here is where that would have come into fruition, except that I know awesome people who, unlike me, know how to handle ink.
I thought I was really original in my book cover idea, until I walked through the young-adult fantasy/sci-fi section at B&N and realized how unoriginal I am. And then I had a moment of despair before sighing and telling myself to get over it.
Thanks to Nathan, Alex, my mom, An, and anyone else who has helped me brainstorm for this. But most especially to Annelise Jordan, for having a superabundance of those artistic skills that God decided I would be better without.
Here's what you need to know about Annelise:
1. She's really cool.
2. I contacted her out of the blue and asked her to draw something I had designed.
3. The poor, unfortunate soul had to draw a Grifter based off my description and a strange photo of Hugh Laurie as a zombie.
4. Don't ask.
6. She did an amazing job.
7. Stop reading this and go check out her other stuff.
Today, I would like to talk about what I call "First Chapter Syndrome." This might already be a term coined by a smart person who has done actual research. My research comes from experience and the woes I've heard from fellow writers who can't move past that first chapter. The first chapter is hard. It's excruciating. It bleeds you dry. Let me tell you a little secret.
It took me six years to perfect my first chapter.
I know, I know! I've since realized things. I'm always realizing things, aren't I? That is why I'm a huge proponent of "Do everything wrong at first so that afterward you can do everything right." For instance: The way I wrote my first draft of The Trace? Totally wrong. But that's a discussion for a future blog post. *Makes mental note to self.*
Here are three (and only three!) of the things I have learned that prevent writers from succeeding in that first chapter.
Querying is basically the most terror-invoking process ever. And I still don't know how to write a perfect query! I've read lots and lots about what agents prefer, and the main thing I've learned is that agents are like English professors. If I wrote in this particular style for Prof. X, I'd get an A. If I gave that same paper to Prof. Y, I'd get a C. It's the same with agents. I think. Then again, I don't really know what I'm doing, so...
I'm just going to go ahead and casually segue into the amount of rejections I've received. The current magic number is 10. Every time I tell my mom I got another rejection, she reminds me of how many J.K. Rowling got. The number changes. At first it was 8, and then 18, and then 12, and now I'm just convinced that Rowling never actually got rejected. That sly devil.
The first time I received a rejection email, my heart coiled into a spiral of ice. Yes, that was dramatic, but that's what happened. It was very awkward. I was at work, at the front desk on the second floor, and in walks half of the department because turns out there's a meeting that was scheduled twenty seconds after I read the email. Thanks, library. In walks my boss, and I'm trying to look normal by keeping my eyes extremely wide in a non-psychopathic way.
Disclaimer: I don't know how to draw. My entire family can. In fact, one of my sisters drew a life-size version of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus on her bedroom door. My dad drew a picture of Olivia Newton John and sent it to her, and then got a "thank you" in response. My mom drew a portrait of Paul McCartney (but did not send it to him). My other sister and brother can even doodle to perfection.
That's supposed to be Durgan. Can't you tell how elegant his cloak looks? Don't you like how misshappen his fingers are?
For the longest time, I didn't know what the Grifters looked like. Isn't that funny? I'd see them in my head, I'd see Ella talking to them or random Academists fighting them off, but I didn't even know what I was seeing. I guess they were just blobs of grey, and then I thought, "Hey, maybe they SHOULD be grey!"
The evolution of the Grifters from nothings to enemies to grey blobs to monsters to Grifters was an interesting 2+ year process. The Grifters at first only existed so that the Academists would have something to do. They gradually became important, and then I realized that their origin was crucial to absolutely everything in the trilogy. Figuring out their appearance was the hardest part, because—in case you hadn't realized before—I am not at all creative in the artistic sense. Imagine a story, sure, but conjuring up a physical representation of an idea?