I was totally focused on research when my revision notes for Blood and Tempest, book three of the Empire of Storms arrived and consumed my life for several weeks. This blog, which I’ll be honest I created as a means of distracting myself while I waited for those revision notes, was the first thing to get dropped. Now, with a few days to spare, the revisions are (I think?) done, at least for this round. Hopefully there will be more rounds, but sometimes production schedules don’t allow it. Once I turn it in, I may not get another crack at it until copyedits, and then major changes are usually discouraged. Not that I anticipate major changes, but it’s always nice to have the option.
Anyway, after futzing with a short piece and sending it off to a friend to look at, I turned my attention again to research on the new project that may or may not see the light of day. While reading the story “Green Tea” in the collection In A Glass Darkly by Sheridan Le Fanu, I came across this quote:
”There was nothing to be gathered from her letter, more than that he was low and nervous. In those words, of which healthy people think so lightly, what a world of suffering is sometimes hidden!”
Low and nervous. Sounds about right.
On the whole, it probably isn’t a great idea to push yourself to keep writing while you’re sick. But during the revision process, I find it puts me in a particularly merciless mood that makes me less precious with all my favorite little bits, most of which should probably be cut in service to the story.
I’ve always felt like I have two modes: input mode and output mode. In output mode, I write. A lot. Like all the time, compulsively. Even if it’s not any good. It’s like a firehose. During that time, I don’t actually read a lot, or consume much media of any kind, really. TV, film, comics—none of it holds my attention for long because the urge to write is simply louder than anything else.
Then there are periods were the whole thing flips and I become so hungry for story and information that hours of reading and watching and listening seem to fall into a bottomless hole. It’s never enough. I never feel sated. During that time, even short periods of writing (like this blog post) feel laborious.
Sometimes I think I should try to find a way to balance these two things out more. Maybe I will eventually. But not today.
Today I can feel those gears shifting inside me in the same way I can see Winter shifting to Spring. I’m in the revision stage of Blood and Tempest, the third book in the Empire of Storms trilogy. We sold the first book, Hope and Red about two years ago and my editor at the time set an incredibly intense release schedule of 9 months apart. So far we’ve managed to keep up with that, and I’m petty sure we’ll be able to do it for this last book, too. But what that’s meant is that I’ve been stuck on almost perpetual output mode for the last two years, give or take a couple months here and there while waiting for revision notes. I also wrote a short story for Stephanie Perkin’s Summer Days and Summer Nights anthology somewhere in there. So a lot of output these last two years.
But now that the trilogy is winding down, it’s time to start considering what comes next. And with that comes a great deal of research. Deep, strange, unsettling research. And I find that I’m relieved.
Incidentally, the picture of those flowers comes from my “garden”. I loathe gardening and have no idea why these damn things come back every year. Maybe just to irritate me.