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It Can Be Frustrating

This week, I got my groove back. I know, that’s a horrifying expression, and it gets even worse if you try to picture how it looks if I ‘groove’ to anything… but it’s true. I’ve been hammering Black Sun since the holidays, knowing there’s a story there, but not quite able to break it out. Finally, though, the story located the key (since we’re apparently using the metaphor of it being in a cell), and opened the door.

Now, I think –– I hope –– it’s working. The characters have landed in the right places, the plot is crystallizing, and the overall vibe seems right. ‘Vibe’ is a scientific measurement, by the way.

Honestly, I’m feeling good –– I’m probably a bit insufferable. But the point of this note is not to gloat (no writer ever has the right to be self-congratulatory, simply for being able to write). I’m not even posting this as an excuse to share the screencap above, which is an unedited section of the current draft (spoiler alert?).

No, I’m writing this as a reminder to anyone who has tried to write something, and has run into trouble: don’t quit, don’t complain too much, just keep chipping away. Always remember that it is a privilege to be telling stories, no matter how frustrating the process might seem. And sometimes beating your head against the keyboard is required.

Because to get to the 4,000-word start of Black Sun that I’m pleased with, I had to draft 40,557 words that simply didn’t work. Some problems can only be worked out by trial and error (or at least that’s the convenient excuse for a hack like me).

I don’t like to talk about the number of books I’ve worked on over the years –– they are the products of a misspent youth. Nevertheless, I do think I have sufficient writing experience to offer this platitude: sometimes it can be easy, sometimes it can be miserable. It took only six-and-a-half days to draft The Sinope Affair, but Whitecoat took two rewrites over the course of a year. The key with any project: if your instincts say you’re close to the story, don’t quit fumbling around until you find it.

Because when you do, you could end up with a superagent invoking Churchill. And having the chance to write such a thing is, I assure you, entirely awesome.