So, back in 2012 I started work on a piece (working title: "The Midwife"). Over the course of the next year, I kept it on the back burner. I did a ton of research and interviews and made a light outline. I wrote a bit of it, but it didn't quite work the way I wanted it to. So in the autumn of 2013 I returned to it. This time I wrote almost 20 pages of it before it stalled out again. What had my head going crazy that time was trying to figure out what market it would be. It's not my typical brand of urban fantasy, you see. So the bullshit minutia of genre and marketability and all that bogged down my brain to the point it choked off creativity. It induced a kind of paralysis. A couple of months ago, while going through an old notebook, I found the notes I'd made on this second attempt. I decided to write the end scene that I'd been imagining for years as a stand-alone short story (not posted here or on Patreon for reasons that will soon become evident). When I let someone read it, they cried, and I felt like that short story, that one scene had captured a lot of what I wanted of this story.
Maybe, I thought, I'm finally ready to tell this story.
And the old voices started up again. "It will never sell. It's so out of character for you. It's not monsters-crashing-down-the-door action. It's not going to work. It's not even a specific genre. It's a bland idea. And if you do it the way you want to--epistolary rather than straight chronological prose--it will fail. Besides, who the hell writes epistolary novels any more? Especially contemporary fiction without the gimmick of Twitter or email to bring it into the modern era? Maybe if it was a period piece..." And so on into perpetuity. You can see how this kind of shit would bog up the works and make it very difficult to work.
Well, this week, I reminded myself to forget all of that shit. I'm going to write what I want to write. I'm the only one who can tell this story. It comes from me. My heart. My soul. My mind. My experience. My questions and curiosities. These characters speak to me. And thus, it falls to me to tell their story. Eff the marketability and genre questions. Those are for after a story is finished. But it needs to be told. And I genuinely feel like I'm at a place in my personal skill growth where this is story is something I can do effectively.
I started work on "The Midwife" again with a personal deadline to finish it by December 1. (My daughter's winter break being the last 2 weeks of December and UNINVITED going to the editor about that time, too, those last two weeks wil be clean up time. And no new writing from whole cloth gets done on major school breaks, sadly. Part of reality for me.) I've already caught up to where I'd written previously and added a few new scenes. It's over 7300 words at the moment and I think I've got a decent idea of what comes next. (It's the nebulous part, though, so I'm a little wary.)
So, I wanted to share with you this letter I wrote to myself. It's dated August 28, 2013. (Yeah, it took a while to sink in and it's something I will constantly need to remind myself of.) But if you find yourself similarly feeling caught up in the crazy OTHER shit that goes along with writing, maybe this will help you.
This is a song about friendship. Yes, I said song--not book, novella, story, etc.--because this is a song. It is flowing, lyrical, and sacred. It will be as long or as short as it needs to be. It doesn't give a damn about markets or genres. All it wants is to be told, to be heard and to fly into hearts.
Now that that's out of the way....
This is a song about friendship; long-lasting and deep. Soul-mates who understand one another from the beginning. Trust. Surprise. Love. Anger. The friendship that blooms when 2 lonely people find one another.
This is also a song about death. Death from the side of the dying--not the grieving, the already dead or undead. We will show the beauty of death in an attempt to remove some of the ridiculous stigma, but we won't make it all pretty "better angels". Acknowledge fear. Acknowledge pain. Let the deaths be about the dying. Dignity. Beauty.
This is a song about comfort. Giving solace to the dying, knowing/being known by someone else. Shared pain. Shared joy. Unabashed connection and genuine concern. Being a rock for someone and letting yourself fall apart into someone else, safe in the knowledge that they will catch you. Being and having a safe place to fall.
Many influences lay in the soil of this story, but at its beating heart are these 3 things: Friendship, Death, and Comfort. When you find yourself over-complicating it by thinking in terms of conflict or strong female character or "slipstream vs fantasy vs spec fic".... remember these 3 things. They are all that matter.
<3 - You.
So I'll write it. And we'll all see what happens.