“First you set out to write a book. Then, very quickly, you realize the book was set out to write you.”
~Brandon A. Trean
6 days. 22 hours. 3 chapters. 32 pages. 10,890 words.
This has been, hands down, my absolute favorite writing week for WATERCOLORS. It was one of those weeks where the words flowed freely instead of hiding behind brick walls, where I would have to go running for my journal as ideas exploded in my brain, where the characters talked openly and let me inside their heads, inside their hearts. One day, I wrote an entire page in ten minutes. Another, I lost myself so completely in the story that I forgot to eat breakfast. A third, I wrote seven pages straight and only stopped because my back was screaming at me, too achy from sitting at my desk for so long to stay there even a minute more. In short, this was the kind of week writers live for. It was ebullience and adrenaline and inspiration. It was magic.
And, though I hate to admit it, that hasn’t always been the case with this book. I’ve loved it from the beginning, have believed in the characters and their journeys, but it’s been a different experience this time. I’m writing about places and situations that are foreign to me, and sometimes, no matter how much research you do, there’s still more to learn. The list of changes I have to make in revisions is probably as long as my arm. There are scenes to add, details to tweak, storylines to shift. I won’t lie – for quite awhile, that was discouraging. I still wrote religiously every morning, I still made sure to stick to my half-a-chapter-per-day quota, but for some reason I couldn’t let the wave of the story carry me along at full throttle. Maybe it was because I’m querying SANDS OF TIME simultaneously and still feel such a pull towards those characters. Maybe it was because it’s challenging, and sometimes frustrating, to tap into the emotions of someone who’s homeless and a songwriter when I’m neither. Or maybe it’s because I have a hard time letting go of perfectionism when it comes to writing. Know what, though? That only made it more special when the story wrapped me in its embrace this week.
I got to write a series of scenes I’ve been looking forward to since the planning stages – scenes between Eden, her mom, and grandmother, scenes that honored her grandpa, scenes that lifted them a little higher. Scenes that lifted me a little higher. One of my favorite parts about working on this book has been the relationship between Eden and Lillian, because it’s given me a chance to weave my own grandmothers’ threads into the pages. Eden views life in music and melodies, and this allowed me to share part of my own heart song. Eden is not me and Lillian is not my Gram, but with these scenes in particular I could see her smile. Hear her voice. Imagine her hand atop mine. It was like she was standing behind me as I wrote – along with Grandmom Dot, Pop Joe, and Granddaddy – smiling peacefully. Proudly. I will always regret that my grandparents didn’t get a chance to read my books. With this, though, it kind of feels like they can. Like their love still lives on. Like they’re reminding me, as Lillian reminded Eden, that the people we’ve lost are never truly gone. They are always inside us, and when we can crack open our hearts and let their love burst onto the page … it is the best.
Endings have always been my favorite part of a book to write. There is something uniquely special about watching the story tie together. It is satisfying, and fulfilling, and, I think, the closest a writer can get to experiencing real, tingly, out-of-this-world magic. Writing the last few chapters of a book makes me feel like I’m flying. Soaring. Reaching up for the stars and actually holding those pinpricks of light in my palms. With only three chapters to go in this draft, I have never been more excited about the story. I would plunk myself in that desk chair and write for twenty-four hours straight if I could. I am forcing myself to take a day off tomorrow, but my fingers, they’re already itching to find the keys again. And you know, in retrospect, maybe it’s a good thing that this book didn’t come as easily. Nothing worth having ever does, and now I truly mean it when I say I can’t wait to jump into revisions. I am giddy with the thought of where this book could go. Where it could take me.
Where it already has.