Ask any writer and they will tell you: each story written contains a piece of their soul. Just like any artist, a writer has pieces that they prefer over others, and often those pieces reflect the passion of their soul.
Every once in a while, I find myself forced to write a piece, not by any one person but by my own mind. If you are a writer, you might know what I mean. My brain shuts down and nothing can change it. It’s like writer’s block, but at times I think it’s worse. Instead of running up against a concrete wall, I’m running up against the Great Wall of China and the only way through is a tiny tunnel. Everything I was working on is frozen and I have to follow that path before I can return.
I’m hitting that wall right now and I’ve finally given in. Calypso is so near completion. People are falling in love with it, and I am so grateful for all your comments and messages about it. I’m a fourth of the way through the first massive edit and everything is coming together. It is easily my most creative work, definitely the best world-building I’ve ever done. The foreshadowing and relationships have laid the groundwork for future books. To cap it all off, it seems like the literary world is beginning to return its gaze to science-fiction. The stars are all aligning and… I can’t finish it.
The passion and joy I have in Calypso has faded, not through any fault of the story. Really, it isn’t even a fault in myself, although I’m sure beating myself up for it. (It’s at times like this that I am ever so grateful that I have no deadlines yet. If this had happened after I had an agent, I’d be up a creek without a paddle.) Instead, I have another story demanding my attention and no amount of me trying to force Calypso through will work. I know from previous experience that any true masterpiece must be allowed to grow on its own. The layering and emotion and description necessary for it to truly take shape cannot be shoved onto the page through sheer effort of will. And with that revelation, I have come to admit temporary defeat. Calypso shall be put on hold.
This may not be entirely a bad thing, though. Before I start getting messages and comments telling me to suck it up or push through, consider this: the other story is a stand-alone novel. For those of you who don’t know what that means, one book is the entire shebang. Unlike Calypso, which is the first book in the Children of the Stars series, The Real Cinderella has no prequels or sequels or back-story other than what is in the book itself. It is complete as one. And while I think Calypso is more commercially interesting for people, I’m also fully aware of how readers can respond to mid-series genre jumps.
Take for example Stephenie Meyer and her fantastic book The Host. I am a self-proclaimed sci-fi nerd, but this book was in a league of its own. Did my peers think so? No, not particularly. While I don’t remember what the critics said about the book, I know my adolescent friends tore it to shreds. (Yes, I did just date myself.) 18-year old girls in love with Edward were a little thrown off by Meyer’s POV switch. Instead of one heroine (albeit a rather clumsy, emo heroine), there were two very strong, very psychologically developed heroines. The world was much more intense, and the characters were much more fleshed out. Meyer successfully moved from the young adult realm to the adult, but her previous fans weren’t necessarily ready for the jump. Readers were thrown from Bella’s body into Melanie/Wanderer’s. The switch from romantic fantasy to post-invasion adventure was tough. Add on to it that it was released smack dab in the gray space of Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, I personally see the reason for its poor reviews. (Again, based on my peers. Which are the main readership. Which would make them more important than NYT critics? Oh, the blasphemy…)
I don’t want this to happen. I also don’t want to have a deadline for Book 3 of CotS while I’m trying to finish up The Real Cinderella. And the genre jump between Calypso and The Real Cinderella is about as broad: the first is a science-fiction epic and the second is a medieval fantasy. While I don’t have the struggle of massively different heroines, the focus completely changes. From a business perspective, it seems much wiser to finish The Real Cinderella before Calypso, even without the guarantee of success. Then again, no book ever has a guarantee. (And yes, it is immensely helpful that TRC is overflowing my brain. It’ll be a much quicker write.)
So there’s the bad news, friends. Many of you know me for Calypso and I’m more than a little nervous that this news will have people drifting off left and right. Still, I hope you’ll stick around long enough to see how The Real Cinderella turns out. It is not like my other works, but it has my soul behind it. If you can bear with me, I’ll do my best not to disappoint. Have no fear: Calypso will one day be in print. For the moment, though, I have to go through this tunnel before I can come back to it.