Writing

Madness Reigns, Also Known as Dust and Tears

When you’ve lived with someone for a long time you develop a vocabulary of shared references and private jokes. One of ours is the phrase “dust and tears.” This is generally used in tones of adolescent existential angst when asked things like “We didn’t go shopping – what do you want for dinner?” *long, drawn-out sigh* “Nothing…dust and tears.” Just a quick explanation of the title. :)

It’s been dust and tears all round for the past week. And madness, obviously, as per the post title. The follow-up story to The Clockwork Bluebird is a complicated one, very dark, with intertwined fairytale retellings. I left it partially written with pages of notes several months ago when my book cover art workload got too heavy to even think about it. I was working late each night and also weekends and getting very stressed out. So I went on a hiatus of sorts and gradually worked my way through all of the existing cover work until I reached a point where I only had a few left to do. Yes, I as a working freelancer got rid of all my paying work. Yikes.

That madness aside, once I was able to go back to the second manuscript I found a pile of rubbish and pages of notes that no longer made any sense to me. You have to understand that in this book I have intertwined main stories based on the Goose Girl and The Red Shoes. There are notes relating to Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty (don’t ever let anyone tell you that your reading habits as an angst-ridden goth teen won’t serve you well in later life), Commedia dell’Arte and the exotic animal trade in Victorian England. We have a King of the Cats subplot and steampunk technology fueled by Fae magic.

And I don’t remember how much of it fit together. It all made sense at one point…but now? Dust and tears.

Plot SpreadsheetI think most people have seen this image of JK Rowling’s plot spreadsheet for the Harry Potter books. I have something a bit more high-tech but just as messy in Scrivener right now and I’ve been trying to beat the whole thing into submission or die trying.

After a week of literally hurting my brain (incurring stress headaches) I think I have most of it again. The moral to this story is write while it’s hot, don’t wait until the time is right. You’ll never have that span of interruption- and responsibility-free writing time, so just make do. Write the goddamn thing at the point when it wants to be written, or risk losing it.

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