That title makes it sound like there’s some blood magic going on, doesn’t it? Well, there might have been in my previous project also known as “The Tree Book”. Bitterroot is about 99% blood magic free. And 100% going to break me again.
2019 brings my critique partner (CP) and I about a quarter of the way through each other’s current WIP’s. And let me tell you, this swapping process is pretty different from any previous experiences of getting new sets of eyeballs on the writing.
Both of us are knee deep in projects that are pretty personal. The Tree Book was a book that I wrote because it wouldn’t stop rattling around in my brain. Bitterroot was a book I wrote for me because I needed it. Just for me. Without any intention of ever sharing it. Then I finished it and realized that I want it to get out into the world.
The hang up there is that it feels like giving little pieces of my soul away every time I stick another chapter in the google doc.
This is the general rundown of what a swap looks like for me:
Did she like that scene as much I do?
Did she like that scene less than I do?
Why is that character reading as more of a jerk than I thought he would?
Why is that character reading as less of a jerk than I thought she would?
Did she catch that Wonder Years reference? No, why would she?
But how did she miss that Potter reference? It was RIGHT THERE! Can we still be friends? CP’s? Are there rules about this?
Okay, okay, but is that joke as funny as I thought it was? No… damn.
How is she still missing all of those clues? I practically put that reveal out on a silver platter… Does that mean it’s well done? Or is it terrible?
Have I exhausted the supply of fire puns? They’re going to burn out eventually…
I really should’ve fixed the terminology problems before giving her a chapter using the word “ward” twenty times…
I might like planting Easter eggs a little too much. But the prose level stuff is so tenuous right now at a second draft that I’ll just have my fun thank you very much.
Bitterroot is the most complicated thing I’ve ever written. The multiple perspective thing is a big learning curve. A dynamic, technical magic system is a giant job. Brandon Sanderson, I salute you. And I’ve figured out recently that my favorite part of something this big is the payoff from getting it right. When I plant the clues in the right spot and my CP goes “OH!” Or when she mentions something I was hoping she’d pick up on and I’m just sitting there maniacally laughing cause just you wait…
Getting feedback, both positive and constructive is probably the most important part of this book spawning process right now. If I don’t know what’s not working, I can’t fix it. At the same time, it’s just nice to get that pat on the back every so often. Especially because it’s scary sharing intimate parts of yourself. I’m incredibly lucky that my CP is not only honest, but kind.
I had a bit of a stretch dream of subbing to a mentorship program called Author Mentor Match this spring for their sixth round. They match un-agented authors with completed manuscripts with agented, and often published authors. If the sub window had been in April or May like I’d hoped for, it might have worked. But it’s a the very beginning of March. That’s a squeeze in the best of circumstances. So maybe round seven? By then I should have a project that I can confidently stand behind rather than just sending something half baked out into the world. I guess we’ll see.
So that’s what’s up in my little revision bubble at the moment. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to feel secure in sharing some more (concrete) details about Bitterroot. But until then, thanks for sticking with me on this messy journey.