I’ve been working on Book Three of The Circle: Freedom Rings, for a little over two years now. It’s not done yet. I’ve been dragging my feet for the last year, with less than five thousand words to go to finish it. I know why. Spoiler alert… several people have to die at the end of the book. It’s always hard for me to kill off characters, even when I know that they must go.
Why is it so difficult? Why do writers struggle with things like this? It’s because when you’re writing a story, any story. The characters are like your children. Or your pets. You give them life. Everything you are goes into making them who they are. When they are seriously injured or die, it hurts. And knowing this will happen doesn’t make it any easier. For me and my stories, the difficulty doesn’t really make sense. The characters who have already died, oh yes, there are five of them in book one, and one in book two, come back. In a paranormal fantasy, the dead can return as ghosts. And in my books, they do.
Every story I write has a piece, or more, of me in it. It doesn’t matter whether I show up in the character descriptions, their actions, or how they talk. I’m always there somewhere. I believe it’s like I lose a small piece of myself when a character dies, even when they have the capability of showing up later as a ghost, memory, or spirit.
When I write, I am what they call a pantser, which means that I write by the seat of my pants. No outline, no real idea of what will happen next. My characters drive the story forward and when they stop talking, I stop writing. I begin a manuscript with a targeted number of words, which is eighty thousand for a fantasy novel, and then I start writing. My formula is for the title to be born first. Freedom Rings already had most of the characters in place because it is the third book in the series. That means that the characters who are dying, I’ve known for years now. It will be like burying a family.
The first book in the series, Harlem Angel, actually took me twenty-five years to complete and publish. Part of the issue was what I called writers’ block, but I now know it was the same thing that I’m dealing with now in book three. In book one, one of the main characters died. It was my very first novel, and the impending death stopped me from completing the manuscript for more than ten years. That being said, I did finally get it done and survived the ordeal. In the second book, The Conductor, only one died. Not quite as difficult. It was a minor character but remembered well.
So why so much ire with finishing this one? Surely, I’m used to killing off characters now. I did note that each book has had its own issues with bringing them to the end. I enlisted the aid of my critique group, (if you write, you need one of these!) and they got me to the end of the second book, but I know what the issue is this time and yet I’m still slogging through adjectives and descriptions like frozen molasses, to get Freedom Rings done. I have event deadlines and goals that require the book to be finished. I have fans bugging me every time I see or hear from them. I’ve been promising my editor that it’s coming for at least a year. The characters interrupt my thoughts, waking and sleeping. There are absolutely no excuses for the delay, other than I am human and sometimes things don’t go as we plan no matter how well we plan.
Moving forward, what do I do next? First and foremost, Write. Every. Day. Next, engage in divine guidance. My business as an Angel Communicator and Energy Healer keeps me connected to my Angels and Guides, but like most of us, I rarely ask for their help to get things done. I need to ask. The task feels monumental because of the time constraints and deadlines that are in place. I can’t afford to let the words just lie there unattended any longer. So, I will write. I’ve added it to my calendar to write scheduled times in the morning and at night.
It’s always so interesting to me how I can suggest to others who ask for my input what they should do, and then end up following my own advice. (My Angels are laughing.) I’ve known for a while that this is what needed to happen, but denial is also a human trait. While I don’t adhere to any type of outline, I do keep track of my characters and their traits on a spreadsheet. There are many new tools for a writer to use to keep track of their words. I will use them. Writing, being an author, is not one of those things you can say “do as I say not as I do”. It will catch up with you because if you recognize that it’s a tool or practice that will help and you’re not using it, the need to use it will make itself known in a loud and obnoxious way. Like, friends and other writers telling you to use a voice recorder. That happened three times in the last month.
Exploring the innovations available is a good thing. Most writers don’t use pen and paper to get their words down anymore. There are apps, websites, and tools available, many for free, that will facilitate you getting your words down on paper. Using many of them you can write while driving, riding, or sitting in a park. Did you raise an eyebrow at that? Your cellphone or laptop can be carried anywhere and until the batteries die, you can type, or better yet, record the words and type them later. There are even apps and software that will record your voice and give it back to you in typewritten words. Of course, you can always carry a pen and paper with you too, but where’s the fun in that!
Your takeaways from this are:
Whether you’ve started it or not, you can write a book.
If you don’t know where to start, it’s with the words. Write some down.
Time is only a factor if you let it be.
There is no such thing as writers’ block.
The only thing stopping you is you.
Your excuses could fill a book. Hey, that’s an idea.
Once you know or discover what your hang-up is (you know, like killing your characters off), tackle it and keep going.
Book Three of The Circle: Freedom Rings will be ready for the edits so it’s available this summer. Book Four is already a work in progress.