Prior to starting this novel the trophy for the story that caused me the most grief during its writing process went to Liquid Glass. I didn’t think anything could beat that one and for a long time I despised the story. Now, I really like Liquid Glass but it took me a while before I could stand the thought of even looking at it. Then along came Dystopia, which has already gone through a million plot/character changes, and has tormented me for well over two years.
It started off as a word prompt given to me by Mychael Black. The words were priest and vampire. At that point the story was called Cryptic God and I wrote around 35,000 words before canning it, shelving the entire thing, and then I disappeared from the writing world for a couple of years. When I fished the story out again in 2012, I took out the vampire character – Emrys Amara – and replaced him with the beautiful, androgynous Ambrose Kuester. The title was changed to Dystopia. I realised Emrys would be better off with his own story and began writing that one as serial fiction for my Blog. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long before it was plagiarised and I had to take it down before it was finished.
So back to Dystopia. Many times I’ve been at my wits end with it, given up on it over and over again, then decided I wouldn’t let it get the better of me. I then sent what I’d written to MLR Press and landed a March deadline to finish it. I whine about deadlines. They stress me. They cause me to tear my hair out. In the end they keep me on my toes and focused on the finishing line. I admit I’m my own worst critic and close enough isn’t good enough. I won’t part with something that, in my own opinion, isn’t up to scratch. Plus, Dystopia will be my first full length novel in over two years. I don’t want it to be good, I want it to be excellent.
The date has been counting down rather fast since 2013 began. Every time I’ve re-read this story I KNOW something is missing. It’s a complex story with a lot happening. So complex it’s left me baffled as to how to write myself out of the corners I’d written myself into. I’ve slashed words from it to pick the pace up. I like fast paced stories. But oh my God… what was missing and how the hell could I figure it out before the deadline caught up with me? I’ve been waiting for enlightenment, or divine intervention, or a miracle, or all of those things at once. Nothing… nada… zip… my mind was blank with how to fix this missing link. Rather than stress myself out even more, I closed down all the files and decided not to look at it again. To take a step back, do other things, and see if creating some distance would get the characters talking to me.
Enlightenment has finally hit. Naturally, it’s also hit with the instruction to go back and rewrite large sections to make this new plot twist fit in. Daunting… yes. The relief of finally finding that missing jigsaw piece makes it worth the effort. If I wanted to, I could leave it as is and go with what I’ve already written. That won’t happen because I’d forever hate the story – and my laziness – if I took that route. I’m a glutton for punishment, though, for now I’m considering the possibility of a Dystopia series. It won’t happen immediately as I have four other manuscripts in various stages that will get my attention first.
Yes, this has definitely been the story to test my resolve on every level. Liquid Glass was a breeze compared to this one!