Sunday, March 6, 2016

How I found THE novel

Tonight as I finished edits I had a moment of realization. This realization wasn't anything new exactly, but it's been a feeling of relief I've been having for months now. When I finished Bloodline Inheritance I was afraid to jump into something entirely new. Even as I started writing (and then rewriting) the first chapter of Clara and Claire I had my doubts. So what changed? It's a weird thing to explain, especially to people who aren't writers, just how I ended up writing this story. But Clara's story was in my head for so long while I finished Bloodline Inheritance that I couldn't just give up on it when the going got tough.

There are so many potential ideas that never make it to the novel stage. For one reason or another the author decides the story just isn't strong enough, and it gets shelved. Years ago when Inkpop still existed I had endless amounts of novels that were never finished. Any idea I had I would just run with it until it died. Turns out that isn't such a great strategy. People will tell you a variety of ways you can find the next novel that you want to write. I remember doing those Google searches myself when I started out with Clara and Claire and had my doubts. But it turns out no one can really give you the answer you want. No one can tell you what the next book you should write is going to be because they don't know the ideas that have been flooding your head. They don't know what kind of creativity you're working with. They don't know you or your novels.
The novel you've been wanting to write is inside of you like a locked away memory. And the most truthful advice I could give you about finding it is to really look further into who you are as a writer and a person. Decide what kind of stories you want to tell, and you'll realize the novel you've been waiting for was locked inside your head all along. Sounds easy, doesn't it? (If only that were the case...)

From my own personal experience, I can say I've known for months now that Clara and Claire is the correct novel for me. And this editing process only strengthens that confidence. I always worried that nothing would be as close to my heart as the Magicians series --I mean those are the novels that started my career as an author. At the same time, though, Clara and Claire has its own special place in my heart. I find myself thinking about it at all hours of the day and night. When I'm not working on the book it haunts me to think I'm wasting precious time (even though I know I still have to manage with my daily lifestyle outside of writing).
If there's anything I wish I had done more with Cursed With Power, it's that I wish I had shared more of the journey to publication. I talked a lot about it, but I never really documented in the way that I am trying to do with my newest novel. This book I want to try to show every aspect of the process, so at the end of it everyone from my friends and family to readers to complete strangers can gain more insight into what I do. Sometimes it's hard to explain what we do as writers, but I'm hoping that by sharing pictures as I go through the motions it can shed more light into the work that we do. And even if it doesn't for everyone, I know it will have a huge significance for me to look back on once the book is published and be able to say "this is where I started, and this is where it is today."
My novel didn't come to me in a dream or through a writing prompt. I found my novel because I knew it would challenge me to step outside of my comfort zone. To get scared sometimes, to be uncertain, but most of all to have fun with something entirely new.
Lindsey Richardson


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