The Art of Letting Go

In a week and a day my debut novel, CAMBION’S LAW, will be in the world. And that is an overwhelming sensation, my friends.

These words that I worked on for years to refine and perfect as best I could are leaving my private headspace and by some alchemy making their way to yours. I cannot control how they are read or received, or whether they will be read or received. I can’t control whether the book flies or flops. I’m just along for the ride, now, and trying not to look down.

With all that said, I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me this year. Everyone who has faithfully shared my constant self promo, everyone who has held my hand and held space while I lost my cool, everyone who has cheered me on, everyone who has…bought my book?! HOLY WHAT THE FFFF. The realization that people are actually paying real money to read my writing is strange and amazing to me!

Seated woman looks confused as equations flash across the image.
Is this real life?

Letting go is hard to do.

I’m a perfectionist, which means letting go of control is the most difficult challenge for me. With this book especially, my first completed original novel, my heart and soul went into these pages in ways that if I think about it too much, make me feel very exposed. I wrote it during a difficult time of transition in my life, a time of disillusionment, of shattering and rebuilding. The trauma of those past selves is in these pages, because I can’t seem to keep it out. But love is in those pages too, love for the people who hurt us and the ones who heal us, and the challenge of accepting love when it’s not something we’re used to. As my protagonist, Lily Knight, would say…it’s complicated.

I learned so much writing CAMBION’S LAW, about writing and about life, and now when I look at it, it’s hard not to see the lessons I have learned since. It was my training wheels book and now it’s teaching me something new, how to be a published author, how to understand that my words and characters will have a life of their own in my readers’ minds.

These words are no longer mine. They belong to you now, if you choose to read them.

‘Tis the season.

It feels appropriate to be sitting with all this in November, in Samhain season if you’re witchy, a season made for cutting away that which does not serve you. It’s a season of transition, of saying goodbye, of getting down to the bones. It’s a time to sweep away the dead leaves and turn over the earth, draw what you love close and let go of the rest.

In a similar spirit, some writer friends (hi G-squad!) and I have decided that this month, we are going to celebrate NOvember and the art of saying no to things, whether that’s interruptions to our writing time, NaNoWriMo FOMO, social media altogether, being a rampant perfectionist, or all of the above. Or NONE of the above. It’s the reason for the season!

Writers and non-writers alike, we invite you to join us in saying NO this month. Saying no doesn’t mean being negative. It makes our “yeses” more meaningful when we save them for things we really want and let go of the rest.

As in life, so in writing.

As I write this ode to letting go when it’s time, I am also struggling to produce the final chapters of my current project so I can let it go on to its next step. I don’t know why writing endings is so challenging for me, but I suspect it has to do with everything I just said above. When I finish the book I’m working on now, it goes out of my hands. Second books are notoriously hard, and while this isn’t the novel I wrote after my debut (that honor goes to GALATEA’S PARADOX, my Pitch Wars book), it is the follow-up to my debut.

But I have noticed a pattern. With every book I’ve finished, the ending gives me more trouble than every other part of the book. I will write most of the draft, then go back and redraft, and then redraft AGAIN before I finally tackle that conclusion. It took me years before I finally wrote the last chapters of CAMBION’S LAW, and I did the same thing with GALATEA’S PARADOX. Now here I am staring down another ending and wondering how the hell I’m going to wrap up all these plot threads in a neat manner. Why can’t books just end immediately after the final battle? Why can’t books finish themselves, for that matter? Books need to pull their weight around here!

Some of this I blame on NaNoWriMo, which is where most of my books begin. (I still don’t know if I’m doing NaNo this year or if I’m saying NO to it, but that’s a different blog post.) My novels are never complete by 50k words and when I pick up my zero draft after letting it cool, I typically start with a redraft. And then by the time I get close to the end of THAT, I know I need to change so much in the beginning that I tell myself it’s not worth writing those last painful wrap up chapters. And the cycle starts again.

So I write all my ending chapters on draft 3. It’s officially my process now. But this IS draft 3, the moment of truth! So I need to get to it already. Everything can be fixed in post! But try telling my perfectionism that.

Elsa sings "let it gooooo"
Come on, inner editor! Be more like Elsa!

Thank you for reading! Now, it’s time to kick this book baby out of the nest. Fly well, my pretties!

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