In a couple of weeks, the blog will be shifting gears to talk a bit more about Fourteen Stones and preparation for launch. I’m so excited to share more about my long-beloved, first-ever fantasy project, which pretty much changed the course of my writing. (And I still can’t quite believe it’s going to be a real book soon!).
Today, though, I’m in a reflective mood, having last week finished revisions on another brand-new book project. I’ve posted a little bit, in previous weeks, about this book, which I originally titled Nicky True after its protagonist, but I think now is going to be called Line Magic. Set in Philadelphia in the last months of World War II, it’s about an artist who can change the subjects he draws by drawing them, and how he uses this magic to change the wider world.
I’m usually a big fan of planning projects ahead of time, especially anything as long as a book. I can spend months or more mulling over my characters, their day-to-day lives, and whatever sense I have of the conflicts that might drive their stories. In the case of Line Magic, I was seat-of-the-pants-ing (new word?) for the first time. I didn’t have anything more than a protagonist I liked but didn’t know much about, and a very vague sense of what he was up to. And I learned something. Writing it that way, going along and seeing what happened from one page to the next, was a blast.
It did mean that revision was way more work than I expected. The first half of the book pretty much needed to be reconstructed, in light of what I figured out as the story went along. The best thing, though, was that by going into it without much of a plan at all, I felt no pressure to live up to any ideals or goals in my head. The story didn’t have to turn out in any particular way: it just had to be what it wanted.
I think I’ve mentioned before that in my book projects, I always need to feel super-invested in, and connected with, at least one character. In this case, since Nicky was also my first-person narrator, liking him was pretty much make or break for the project. Luckily, he was a delight. And the funny thing was, by the time I wrapped up revisions, I also realized how much he and I have in common. He’s a visual artist, while there are few things I’m worse at; but he’s an anxiety survivor like me, and he’s the first character I’ve ever written who wears glasses (which I’ve done since I was five). I didn’t intend to put myself on the page, and in a lot of ways I didn’t do it, but it’s pretty easy to imagine him as the older brother I don’t have. As a friend pointed out when I mentioned this, it’s a short step from being as fond of him as I am to actually thinking sort of nice things about myself. 😉 Astonishing!
I don’t know what will happen with Nicky in the long run, though I hope someday he’ll make his way out into the world. Meanwhile, the project was a wonderful adventure and an unexpected gift, and a reminder that writing is my best anchor, but it’s also okay to let it take me in new directions.
As always, thank you for visiting the blog. Stop back tomorrow for our weekly Maker’s Day prompt!
p.s. If you’d like to hear a little teaser from Line Magic, here’s a reading of its first few pages. This prologue was a delight to write. 🙂