Tag Archives: The Lost

Who am I?

I’ve been rereading The Lost recently. I’m working on a completely different project, one that requires a bit of planning, so I’m only writing a chapter or so a day. In my spare time, I’m playing with The Lost and figuring out how to rearrange it. I have a massive revision in mind, one involving structure, not story.

It’s fun to read it again after so much time away. It’s impossible not to compare it with Wren. They cover some of the same territory, but from such different angles, and with very different POV characters.

Wren lives in a world of near constant mental stimulation. Isis doesn’t, not in the same way. Isis feels her way through the world, literally. She’s very tactile. She’s also frightened of people, of touch, which leaves her at odds with her nature. It’s a fun friction to work with in a story. One of my favorite scenes involves just the brushing of pinkies across a table.

That friction…I couldn’t have explained it when I was writing it. I approach things a little more clinically now than I did then, but I still tend to feel my way through a story. Afterward, that’s when I identify those necessary threads and figure out how to pull them taut. Until then I try to sit in the character’s skin the same way I sit in my own. Efficient? No. Messy? Yes. Surprising? Almost always.

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Almost there

I should be finished with my latest pass through Wren later today. Everything is finally in the right place, more or less. It was a great shaggy mass of a story to work, kind of like oatmeal bread dough, wet and sticky and hard to shape. The good news is that it now looks and reads more or less the way it should.

My difficulty in working on Wren had everything to do with my process, and what happens when I don’t follow it. I wrote The Lost in the space of a couple months. I wrote its unnamed successor in a similar time frame. Working like that means the story is constantly in my head, and I sort through plot details on a daily basis, making changes as I go.

I wrote Wren off and on over eighteen months. Too many breaks, too much time in which to lose plot and character threads. It’s been an adventure sorting it all out.

Were my process different, were I someone who started with a detailed outline, for example, it likely would have been a different experience. But minds work in their own ways. Mine does better working out details as I write, rather than plotting it out in advance. Same process, whether with novels, short stories, or, long ago, college papers. The act of writing allows my mind to make connections that would be a struggle otherwise.

Anyway, one or two more revision passes and Wren will be done!

What then? I wrote a short story this weekend. I have a handful more waiting for my time. I have the short story that will not die waiting for me to take it out and despair over it again. And with Wren complete, it will be time to revise The Lost (the stories overlap), something I’m eager to do.


Smooch smooch

A confession. I like writing first kisses.

I’d make a horrible erotica writer. I’d make a horrible romance writer (in the commercial publishing sense of the word). I’m not very interested in the follow-through, just in those few moments of discovery. So much can be contained in a kiss. There are times when I think the entire story of The Lost can be boiled down to three very different kisses.

Phoenix also has just three–two magical, one, well, that one’s magic is of a different sort. At least it is for Tucker, experiencing his first kiss: The space between us vanished, his hand traveling along my cheek, my neck, before he pulled me into a kiss. A regular kiss, but I believed it could turn my hair white, leave moonlight on my lips. I think I made a little squeak of some sort, his shirt rough as I gripped it.

Wren makes me suffer a bit. Wren has the kiss that doesn’t happen. Thwarted energy is a good thing for a novel, but it can be hell on the writer. At least it is when you know you’re setting up something that plays out over four books. All those turns, all those possibilities lost with each simple action taken.

In another book, the unwritten one, the kiss happens, and another path is taken, and the series becomes a single book whose ending comes with a white picket fence and a garden with roses in front. It would make for a wonderful life, but perhaps a boring story.

No kiss.


Sea Glass update

“Sea Glass” is here!

Again, thank you to the hardworking folks at Abyss and Apex. They put together a beautiful publication.

“Sea Glass” was the first short story I wrote after my dry years. It comes from a story mentioned in The Lost about a girl, a beach, and an experience that broke two brothers apart and set the stage for everything that happens in Wren and the Aware novels.

But first there are just Elgin and Jacob and Beth.

Story facts?

It was originally called “Beach Glass.” Then, in a fit of writer insecurity, I read up on beach glass and sea glass and decided the name should be changed.

I’ve hiked down to a cave full of anemones a handful of times. It’s beautiful, and only accessible at absolute low tide.

I feel like I should have more interesting things to say about this story, but at the moment it just feels good to see it published.


Assertiveness

A quote, from Jhumpa Lahiri:

“And yet writing stories is one of the most assertive things a person can do. Fiction is an act of willfulness, a deliberate effort to reconceive, to rearrange, to reconstitute nothing short of reality itself. Even among the most reluctant and doubtful of writers, this willfulness must emerge. Being a writer means taking the leap from listening to saying, “Listen to me.””

It’s a curiosity to me how I stopped writing for so many years, and started again writing something very different from I once had. I think both stopping and starting stemmed completely from willfulness, from my need to find it.

The quote comes from her wonderful personal essay in the New Yorker about becoming a writer, “Trading Stories.” You can read the whole thing here. I thoroughly recommend it. (And yes, it is from last June’s issue, but when you read your New Yorkers as hand-me-downs, your reading schedule is a little slower than most.)


An introduction

You are sixteen.

You’re different from the others in your neighborhood. Your family keeps to itself. You spend nine months of the year at a boarding school by the ocean, one not listed in any school directory. You don’t go there because you choose to, you go there because it’s what you do, what your parents did, what everyone like you does.

Because you are Aware.

Being Aware isn’t something you’ve chosen. It’s just part of you, like the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose. The way you can see anger, or fear, or desire, as color, as texture, can watch them spread from one person to the next. To you.

The only place that’s safe, the only place that’s quiet, is the Estate. It’s school, it’s home, it’s the safe haven for the Aware. The only thing it asks for in return is your future, your mind, your body, all given to help preserve your endangered people.

The rules of the Estate keep you safe. They keep all the Aware safe, protecting those elegant fragile minds from the emotional debris of an overcrowded world. From the inside, in this safe place, you’ve no reason to question the rules.

But you’re not quite on the inside. You’ve been keeping a secret. Every mind around you gives off a pulse, a smell, a trail of pleasure and pain that you can follow. You shouldn’t know these things. Only Trackers do. And everyone knows what happens to girls with Tracker traits. At the end of a path through the woods waits a building with a chain link fence around it. Within its walls live the women born with and destroyed by skills only men should have.

The Estate keeps them safe too.

Sometimes life can change within a day, an hour, a minute. The way it does when you learn that other Aware exist, far from the reaches of the Estate. That your talent won’t destroy you, but not being allowed to use it will.

You are sixteen. You have a choice. Stay with The Estate. Fulfill your obligations. Hide who you are. Or betray everything you know, and be free.

You are Wren.


Sea Glass

A little more good news.

“Sea Glass” is a simple story. Two brothers, an ocean, a girl on the beach. Despair that runs like black ink through the water, joy that fills the air like kite streamers in the wind.

It’s also so much more to me. The conflicts of The Lost originate in the events of “Sea Glass”. Without those brothers, and that ocean, and that girl on the beach, there would be no novel series for me. I wrote it after I wrote The Lost, then sat on it for a long time, too chicken to send it out.

Now it has a home. The good people at Abyss and Apex will be including it in their April 2012 issue. I couldn’t be happier!