May 28th, 2013

crossed heart

Shapeshifted and being my own haruspex

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

Shapeshifted is coming out in a week! Or a little less than a week, considering that it’s almost midnight someplaces ;)

I want to panic. I am panicking. I would be panicking more if I hadn’t taken an ativan earlier on today, when due to cruel daytime errands after a nightshift on, I couldn’t calm down enough to go back to sleep for a nap. (Which is, in retrospect, why I’m so chill about things now. Though I did know today was going to be a write off day.)

Even though there’s nothing to panic about, really. I’m really proud of Shapeshifted. I tried my hardest and I wrote my guts out.

I’ve got two go-to metaphors for book writing — the one I use most often (because it’s less gross) is that writing is like building a cocoon around yourself. You stand in one place and you spin the book all out of you, all around you, it takes the shape you want it to on the outside, the fantasy, SF, romance, etc — but at the same time, it’s also taking your shape on the inside, the person who you are while you’re writing it.

And when you’re done, you break out of that cocoon and go on to building your next one. Which is one reason why it’s sometimes hard to edit books — you’re not just stitching up words you left behind, but pieces of yourself, the thoughts and attitude you had at that time. If you wait too long and become a radically different person it can be hard to go back to the shell of one you used to be, to be fair to that book and give it a chance.

The second metaphor is the guts thing. (You didn’t think I was going to leave the haruspex comment hanging, did you? Never fear, fellow Latin nerds, never fear.) A lot of times writing is like taking a knife to yourself and seeing what’s there inside of you, in all its awful icky musty glory, like the haruspex of old inspecting entrails for updates on the weather. Except instead of trying to make sure you’re going to get a good crop this season, you’re trying to find the words. Words isn’t a strong enough word for it really, and life-experiences sounds far too cheesy. But you’re in there trying to find out what’s real — what’s real for you, because that’s the only way you can make it real on the page for someone else. You have to dig around until you find truth — honest, earnest, sincere emotions and motivations — and sometimes it feels awesome, and other times it’s the most frightening thing you’ve ever done. Picking up your liver and looking at what’s underneath isn’t for everyone…which is usually why I only tell people the cocoon metaphor and leave the guts ones in my head, because it sounds pretty serial killery when people walk by at the coffee shop ;).

My point is that I didn’t write Shapeshifted with silk, I wrote it with blood. For better or worse. I’m sure I made some mistakes along the way, but I dug around deep and tried my hardest. I feel good about it. I hope other people like it too.

I was going to schedule this post to post in the morning because I don’t post ‘often enough’ during the normal hours of the day, but now that it’s taken this earnest woo-woo turn, I’m glad it’s going up late at night, heh.

Anyhow — my body’s hopelessly out of whack today, so I’m going to do laundry and watch all the episodes of The Devil is a Part Timer on Hulu that I haven’t seen yet, and then tomorrow I’ll be back to my normal machine-like self and get out to edit Bloodshifted some in the sun!