(Hello there! You might not remember me, but I’m Chelsea…and yeah, I know, I’ve been away for a long time…almost a month, yikes… But I’m here. I’m back, I’ve been going through a lot, and I’m thinking of taking a hiatus, but, yeah, I’m here for now. Also, I’m using the new WordPress editor, so if we have weird formatting…you know what went on).
Anyway, disclaimers out of the way, we’re here linking up to Christine’s last Know the Novel link up.
1. Firstly, how did writing this novel go all around?
Okay, well, I got my 50k for NaNoWriMo…but I didn’t finish Wattle Fire, I didn’t even get close. And by the end of it, I was so fed up with the story and the direction it was going, that I stopped writing at midnight November 30 and haven’t picked it up again.
So it went okay, as in, “I won”, but not okay as in “I’ve finished my novel!!!!”
2. Did it turnout like you expected or completely different? And how do you feel about the outcome?
It turned out completely different to what I was imagining, mostly in bad ways. I don’t feel great about the outcome, but it’s not too bad. I don’t think anyway. 😛
3. What aspect of the story did you love writing about the most? (Characters, plot, setting, prose, etc.)
It’s a toss up between the characters and the setting. I absolutely love the characters, especially Yilla and Courageous, but I also love the setting. Actually, I’m totally head over heels in love with all the different places I’ve created in this story. There’s something really magical about Courageous’ palace (which is based off Linderhof Palace, one of the palaces built by Ludwig II, the so-called “Fairy Tale King”), and there’s something wild and amazing about the wilderness and landscape of Traumlant. I love it. 😀
4. How about your least favourite part?
*Various other frustrated noises*
5. What do you feel like needs the most work?
Or, the lack of plot. Either way, there’s basically no plot except that a few people get stabbed and there’s quite a lot of bantering between Courageous and his sister, Hopeful. (But sibling bantering is so good).
6. How do you feel about your characters now that the novel is done? Who’s your favourite? Least favourite? Anyone surprise you? Give us all the details!
My favourite, as I mentioned earlier, is a toss up between Courageous and Yilla. Poor little Courageous is so hurt and broken, he’s so insecure in himself and so unlike any other character I’ve ever written that I just can’t help but love him. I also love Yilla, but she’s more self-sufficient. I also loved the experience of writing a character who fits the “strong-female character” stereotype almost perfectly, but making her into her own person, rather than little more than a cliché.
As for my least favourite…High-Praise hasn’t really managed to capture my attention. In fact, I’ve made the decision to take her point of view out of the novel, because I just don’t enjoy being inside High-Praise’s head all that much. It’s not really anything against her, per se…she just isn’t as interesting *cringes, because that sounds terrible*.
Hopeful surprised me by being so…exuberant and odd. I love her, but she did surprise me.
7. What’s your next plan of action with this novel?
Well, I’ve pretty much scrapped everything I wrote, currently I’m doing a sort of storyboard and trying to figure out how to fix it, to give it an actual plot and give the characters better motivation and personalities, and to do a little more worldbuilding.
8. If you could have your greatest dream realized for this novel, what would it be?
I want to say that my greatest dream is that it would write itself, but instead I’ll say something philosophical and deep.
If this book shows just one person who feels insecure, who doubts, who grieves, who feels they need to be strong, who craves peace and safety, that they have worth, that there is a King worth trusting, that you can cry, that peace and safety are not fairy tales…if it could show just one person (even if that person is me) these things, than that would be my greatest dream.
9. Share a snippet of one of your most favourite scenes!
The bushranger brought his solid stick above his head, manoeuvred out of the way of Courageous’ sword, and then brought the stick down on Courageous’ sword arm.
Yilla heard Courageous cry out and she clenched the hilt of her dagger even more fiercely. She watched as he dropped his sword, clutching his right hand to his left wrist. For a moment, she saw rage and pain flash across his face, and then he knelt down and picked up his sword again, this time in his right hand.
She decided right there that, yes, she loved this man as much as she loved Limirru and Gamu [her brothers] and that, yes, he was mad and he was a fool.
Letting out another cry—this one sounded like a gravely wounded hare—Courageous flung himself at the man and the fight started in earnest. Perhaps now he’d realised that fencing would get him nowhere in a forest full of greying light. Perhaps some primeval, protective switch had just been flicked and he now cared very little for his own protection. Either way, he was actually now making marks on the man’s body, actually fighting with the fierceness of a small lion.
It seemed all the bushrangers had fled, the convoy—scattered all over the place—were counting their losses and milling about in disinterested, confused gaggles. Then a figure broke away from the huddle of women and came flying toward them.
Verily, of course. Bless her.
Verily knelt by High-Praise, who had curled herself into the fetal position in order to sob more efficiently. Satisfied that the queen was being taken care of, Yilla turned her attention to Courageous.
He was lying flat on his back, one hand held to his head, where a massive black bruise was already beginning to form against the redness of his skin and a long trickle of blood appeared from between his fingers. His breath came in ragged gulps and Yilla decided that the Divine and Autocratic Ruler of Traumlant was trying not to cry.
“You are a fool, Courageous,” she said, before holding out her hand and letting him take it. “A stupid, stupid fool.”
I really enjoyed writing this scene and this is one of my favourite snippets from it (for some background, the royal convoy was attacked by a bushranger gang and High-Praise almost killed. Courageous throws himself into the fray to protect her in an attempt to be heroic, but of course only ends up getting hurt).
10. Did you glean any new writing and/or life lessons from writing this novel?
Yes, I think I have. Here’s a few lessons I’ve learnt in the process of writing this half-draft of Wattle Fire.
I am not mature enough to tackle every theme.
I don’t know, for some reason this surprised me? When I started writing this book, I had a lot of themes I wanted to cover (too many for one book, let’s be honest), but the more I tried to address those themes, the more I realised that these topics were not topics I could write about. I do not currently have the emotional or spiritual maturity to do so, and maybe I never will. But as I wrote, other themes began to show themselves, themes I do have experience with and that I can address. Themes such as insecurity, grief, peace, not fitting in, carrying heavy burdens you don’t feel like you can share, duty…these are all things I can speak about, so these are the things I’m going to address.
I really am not a pantser
I’m just not. I didn’t even really pants this novel, I did have an outline. Just a very vague one, and yeah…it didn’t work. I need super detailed 10k outlines please and thank you.
Linderhof is the most beautiful palace anyone could ask for
Seriously, I could look at pictures of it all day. Ludwig may have been mad, but he knew how to design an architectural masterpiece.
Writing late at night may be good for the wordcount, but it is not good for my brain.
It just isn’t. I can’t write late at night and not suffer from it, even though–like the rather loveable idiot I am–I still do it.
I can write even when the world is falling apart around me
Honestly, I’ve gone through so much upheaval and pain in these past few months. For some reason, when this all began in September and October, when I was outlining and planning Wattle Fire, I thought it would be all over by November and that I’d be able to continue on with NaNoWriMo as usual.
But then October 30 appeared, and nothing had changed. In fact, things got worse. So I had to make the decision whether to participate in NaNo or not. And trust me, I was ready to give up before I’d even started. I wondered if writing a novel was the best thing I could be doing with my time, writing seemed insignificant. But on the 31st, I really felt I should at least attempt it.
So attempt I did. I struggled through November, writing every single day. It was hard. It hurt and it was incredibly frustrating, but I did it. I don’t know if it helped, but it did show me that I am capable of writing even when I don’t feel like it, even when I hate everything, and just want to curl up and sleep the day away.