Writing Posts

My Fears Over My Next Book Project

As you might have gathered from reading this post, I’m about to start my second project for the year of 2018. My goal is four completed writing projects for this year, whether that’s writing a first draft of a book or editing a previous project. To do that, I’ve got three months dedicated for each project. The first project was a success, finishing the first draft of my second book in a quintet, with three days to spare. Over the weekend, it was time to decide what I wanted to work on next.

Though I know what I’m going to work on now, it was a struggle.

First was trying to decide whether I wanted to edit or write something new. If I went the editing route, I had a couple of different options. I could edit the first book in my quintet one more time, before querying it more widely. I could edit the first book in the trilogy that I wrote, the first completed series I’ve ever finished–and first book ever written. I know it could use a long of editing, especially since I’ve written five books since then and I like to believe I’ve grown as a writer because of that.

Part of me wanted to go back and start editing my trilogy. Though I’ve moved on to other ideas and projects, a part of me misses those characters and that story. I still want their story told. Yet I was hesitant to start working on it again, as much as I miss it. Because I know it’s something that’s not going to get published–traditionally, at least. There are too many tropes–and the main subverting does not happening until the end of the third book–and it centers around vampires, werewolves and shapeshifters. All saturated markets in traditional publishing. Not so much in self-publishing, however. Even so, working on that trilogy felt like a potential waste of time, almost, with that knowledge in place?

With the first book in Artemis’s series, I only need to do some minimal editing, yet I’m also hesitant about querying it again, based off the feedback I got over my only rejection regarding the plot. I do plan to query it again, but I’m worried the market just isn’t right for it, right now. So part of me wants to wait.

And I also really want to write something new.

Well, new…ish.

You see, even as I debated–so much so, that I asked my boyfriend for advice–I knew what I wanted to work on: my shelved novel from last year, Blood Price. It creates a new mythology about the purpose of periods and I am just so jazzed about the concept. Out of all the ideas I have right now, I think it might be the most unique and, potentially, the strongest contender for helping me find an agent. Obviously, that’s something I’d like to work towards, so, logically, it feels like the novel I should be working on, next. I still wouldn’t be looking at querying this novel until at least early next year, at the earliest, if you count writing the first draft, editing that, a beta reader round and the edits based off that feedback. But I’d really like to work on this novel and actually finish the first draft.

So why did I go through all this back and forth?

Honestly?

I’m scared to write it.

I love the idea. And my main character, Natanni. I don’t know her fully yet, but what I do know is her strength, her unwavering support for her people and her ability to persevere. She inspires me already, without even writing her first story. After I shelved this novel last year, I came up with some new ideas that I’m really excited about and I think this could just be so much fun to write. None of that is what scares me. Although it’s set in a fantasy world, it’s in a tribal setting. As a white woman, I don’t believe I have the knowledge, experience or culture to accurately write about that setting, even if it’s a fantasy tribe. I’m scared to attempt it and completely misrepresent an entire culture.

Yet I still really want to write this story.

So.

Here’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to write it. I’m going to do my research, look into the groups of people and tribes who will influence the tribe I am creating within this book. I’m talking about a lot of research. I know a lot of that research will be done after writing the first draft, as well (I do that with most of my books; it just works better for me). And, when I finally get to the point where I’m ready for beta readers, I’ll search for a sensitivity reader, who is from or an descendant of that culture. And I’ll listen to what they have to say and then edit accordingly.

I’m still nervous to write this story, even though the idea originated because I wanted to write about a world where periods weren’t taboo or shameful, but instead talked about openly and even played an integral role into society. As a woman, I know I’m completely and totally qualified to write that narrative. But as the outline and the story has evolved, now it incorporates major elements, like tribal culture, where I am in no way qualified to write about that. So I’m going to do everything in my power to write the tribes of my story with that awareness in mind and do my best to learn about a culture that I don’t share, but want to write about it as well as I can, especially as an outsider.

And if turns out that isn’t something I can do? That this story, after everything, needs to be shelved, because I cannot write about that culture without my privileges and prejudices tainting it?

Then so be it.

But for now? I’m going to chase it and see if I can do this story that won’t stop bothering me justice.

Cheers.

6 thoughts on “My Fears Over My Next Book Project”

  1. Do it! (Make me a beta) and look on social media for a tribe of people to help now. (see what I did there huh? huh?)

    I suggest, looking at the comments section of places like refinery 29 or HuffPost and see if there are people there that might be able to be a go-to when you have a question. Or check out podcasts about cultures and see if they give clues as to places or people who are willing to help.

    In the end, people have been writing about what they don’t know about since time began and the fact that you want to do it right means you’re already ahead of all the crap that’s come before. So in the end, while it might take a while, you’ll do better and your story will be stronger for it.

    1. Oh, you’ll definitely be a beta! After doing some worldbuilding and research last night, I’m already super jazzed to start working on this project (and might do so as early as next week!). And thank you for your suggestions! I love that and will definitely keep that in mind.

      And thank you, too, for that lovely last paragraph. The last thing I want to do is offend or misrepresent someone within my stories, so I want to do what I can to try and eliminate that from happening. ❤

  2. Good luck, and I’m sure you’ll do fine 🙂

    One of the main characters in my fantasy dragon work in progress is from a tribal culture too, based on Indonesia, with a similar name: Nanti!
    If you need someone to compare notes with I’d be happy to when I get around to the research 🙂

    I think it’s fine to write from a perspective other than your own: My characters are rarely white females, and my cast includes all kinds of characters. Diversity and representation is a good thing so long as we do it well and use sensitivity readers 🙂

    1. Thank you, for both the encouragement and the offer. I’ll have to remember that! Yes, definitely going to be looking for multiple sensitivity readers by the time this is done.

  3. I totally relate to the dilemma on choosing what your next project will be! It’s sort of like being asked to pick a favorite child. Some are more further along than others, and I certainly favor some over others, but at the end of the day, I just want to write all of them.

    It’s great that you’re mindful of misrepresenting culture. I think that as long as you’re aware and did your homework, it’s going to be okay. Besides, that’s what first drafts are for, isn’t it? To have something concrete to look at it to better identify missteps. Sensitivity readers are also great to have and point out missteps that might have been overlooked.

    1. Right!? And, of course, as soon as I start working on the project I chose, of course my brain is suddenly like, “Ooh, but look how shiny *that* idea is!?” *shakes head*

      That’s what I keep reminding myself, that this first draft is for ME and me alone, so I need to quit being my own roadblock and just write it, no matter how shitty it is or how poorly everything turns out, no matter how much I attempted to avoid it. Because I can’t improve the story and make it right if I don’t have it written out, first, in all it’s shite glory. 😉

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