This past Monday was Halloween. A day on which many of us choose to dress up in costumes and seek out scary activities. I skipped the haunted houses and other spooky experiences that come with this holiday, but I still faced a scary situation. I had to admit that I would miss yet another planned publication date for my first novel, Illusion.
The first setback showed up late summer, when unfortunately I was faced with an extended period of illness. Thankfully the illness was not life-threatening, but it severely affected my ability to write for a couple of months. Even as I recovered physically, I found that I still struggled to write. At first I didn’t understand why the words would not come. When I dug keeper into the matter, I ended up going back to about a year ago to find the source of the problem. That’s when I decided to write. I knew I would write romance, but I didn’t know which sub-genre I would choose, so I decided to follow the common wisdom that says write what you know or what you enjoy reading. I enjoy reading paranormal romance, so with a half-baked idea for a story about a witch in my head, I started putting words on my computer screen.
Never mind the fact that everything I read in books on writing and heard at writing conferences said that it was critical to take time to build the world in which your story is set and your characters live. Countless conference speakers also talked about how much time world building requires, but everyone of them said it was worth the time and effort.
Nevertheless, I wanted to write my novel as quickly as possible. Not to be slowed down by the sage wisdom, I decided I could make up my world as I went along. After all I was writing in an urban setting, not a completely fantastical realm.
To some degree winging it worked for me, at least for awhile, but when I started writing my second draft, I realized there were holes in my story (particularly in the second half of it) that needed to be plugged. Holes that made me realize I didn’t know enough about the world that my story was set in, and equally as important I didn’t know my characters intimately. I didn’t know the backstory and history of my heroine and hero, including the intricacies of their powers and how these would drive the storyline.
Despite these gaps in my story, I didn’t want to slow down, especially after delaying my publication date twice before. The thought of pushing the release back again was unthinkable to me, so I continued to try to patch the holes as I wrote the second draft. That is until the writing process became too painful, and I had to admit I would be better served to temporarily pause my writing and properly build my world. That’s what I decided to do this week. After all, it was clear that I would not publish by Halloween, my most recent date. Unfortunately I didn’t possess the magic needed to conjure up a finished product by the end of the month. Besides, I didn’t want to put out junk just to say that I published by a certain date.
So here’s my confession. I didn’t publish in October, and the truth is I don’t know when I will. I think I’m still on track to publish by the end of this year or early 2017, but I’m afraid to pick a specific date. I don’t have a good track record at this point with picking release dates for Illusion.
I will admit that I was starting to think that finishing my book was becoming an illusion. The funny thing is that when I paused to world build, my story started tightening up. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
So what have I learned? If I’m not willing put in the time for something more complex, I need to follow the advice of “keep it simple stupid”. If I had considered the K.I.S.S. principle when I started this writing journey, I probably would have written a contemporary romance that did not require such extensive world building. But that train has left the station. My paranormal romance is taking shape and will be making its public appearance in the near future.
That’s my update for now. It’s time for me get back to developing my world. Until next time.