Monday, October 24, 2016

The End of Chaos - When Can We Do It Again?

It's very strange to be a debut author after more than a decade of striving to get through that gateway. But it's especially strange if your debut is birthed as three books released in eighteen months. *gulp* I feel that I can now tell this tale, at long last, and maybe, through my own weakness, fellow writers out there can figure out how you'd do it better, or you amazing readers can see how the cheese is made. For now, I'm just glad I survived.

The truth is, there are enough ups and downs in merely creating/editing/proofing a first book to make the most sturdy soul blanch. Because as the edits begin you become acutely aware, as you comb your way through rewrites and plot spaghetti, that this is only going to be the beginning of a very foggy journey. There is a long way still to go. But in spite of your doubt, you trudge your way through the edit phase of Book One even as you begin the daunting task of attempting to create a sequel—though you've become fairly sure through the multiple rounds of edits on Book One that you're actually a talentless hack, a charlatan, who couldn't write copy for the back of a cereal box.

Needless to say, doubt and the fear of impending failure become your familiar bedfellows as you complete those edits, then tie up the over-sized manuscript for your "bridge book", all the while being terrified everything you've been working on is a flim-flamming cliche. Your dreams at night now consist of rooms full of people laughing and pointing at you in mockery. And in the waking hours (or the witching ones) you wander in a brain fog between your coffee pot and your writing desk, making interesting mosaics on your flooring from dribbled vices like wine or Milk Duds.

But still, at long last, you turn in the jumble of words called Book Two just as Book One releases out into the world.

Shockingly(!) not too many people trash your attempt at a debut. It's actually received with interest—if not fanfare—and you feel better. You think, Huh, maybe I can do this author thing. It hasn't killed me yet!

And then the edits for Book Two begin. Your editor also reminds you of that whole "Book Three" thing you should already be half way through. *blink, blink* Book Two begins to feel contrived and underdeveloped as you attempt to untangle it, and your panic bunnies start jumping through your subconscious again, this time with great clanging symbols of ineptitude.

But, yet again, you turn in the edits and somehow manage to patch together something resembling a trilogy finale. And just as Book Two flies out to readers, you feel yourself come back to reality with a weighty thud. Because in the midst of the fog, you've forgotten your children's names, lost the dog somewhere, and you're pretty sure you accidentally went to church in your pajamas several weeks in a row. Everyone who knew you BC (Before Contract) wonder if you're even still alive, but you are on a first name basis with every Starbucks barista in town. Still, you somehow have this wide-eyed amazement at finishing (of a sort) this vast task that felt insurmountable only a year prior.

You've turned in the over-written Book Three, and you are PUMPED to have this thing nearly in the bag!


So, you work like a BOSS on those Book Three edits. You make those intelligible scenes and massive plot holes your b*tch. And then you smile in satisfaction as it all wraps up and is handed back in. You've finished edits for Book Three in record time, gotten your editor's high-fives for climbing Trilogy Mountain, set up all the marketing madness you can manage for the final release, and suddenly you sit back and look at your cat named Noodle and . . . and . . .

And a dark thought creeps in. What. Comes. Next? 

For eighteen straight months you've had your bones, brains, and soul pouring into this beast of a task, this epic arc of a story, and now, well, you need to figure out what's your insides gonna do now? Because who would you be if you weren't hunched over your keyboard with bagel and smear crusted in your hair?! You'd have to, like, be normal again. Uhk!

This, my friends, is what my debut journey felt like. True confessions: I was scared of my inability to do this task as my agent and I jumped into the unknown, and now I am feeling the heavy lack of it. Because there is an alluring adrenaline to impossible deadlines, and I am definitely an adrenaline junky. I'm a go-go-go creator when pushed. I'm also apparently a massive masochist because I cannot WAIT to do this all over again. And again.

And again.

So stay tuned for the next leg in this insane journey, hopefully it'll include another sarcastic main character and shadows lurking around every corner. ;)


Rachel A. Marks is an award-winning author and professional artist, a SoCal girl, cancer survivor, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. She was voted: Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory. Her debut series The Dark Cycle, described as Dickens' Oliver Twist meets TV's Supernatural, begins with the Amazon Bestseller, DARKNESS BRUTAL.

Buy: The Dark Cycle
Her Website: Shadow of the Wood

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