Reviews (Part II) and leaving the harbour again. Maybe.

December 6th, 2015Posted by Nancy

Landscape with a Sailboat, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1874.

Landscape with a Sailboat, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1874.

It’s been a year since Cold Hillside was released, which seems unbelievable.  (What, you haven’t read it? Go read it. f you have, thanks!)

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon or reviewed it on their site. It’s been really gratifying that most of the people who enjoyed the book seemed to like it for all the same reasons that made me want to write it.

It’s been especially satisfying (if somewhat baffling) that so many people said that they found themselves immersed in the world of Lushan. One of my struggles with the book was my belief that I suck at world-building. I agonized over every decision (how does the government work? What colour is that doorway? What do people eat? What are the funeral rites? Who gets married and why?) and I was becalmed for years in a sea of choice paralysis. For years, I used placeholder names for cities and countries and the manuscript was littered with XXX marks where I knew that if I stopped to think for one second about whether something was white or black that I’d lose all momentum.

Since I finished the novel last fall, I’ve been poking away at a short story (proving that yes, indeed, I am a VERY slow writer) that was inspired by one of my main influences, the divine Tanith Lee. I’ve just about finished it – but now my writer’s group has said that they think it should be longer. A novella, at least.  Maybe even, gasp, a novel. I sit here, baffled once again, terrified once again. This will require world-building. This will require knowing what happened 20 years earlier, 75 years earlier. How do magicians get chosen to serve the king? What happened to the witch to make her who she is?

But I have an image of a triptych painting in my head, and an idea of structure, and three very interesting characters. I can always read a few books about the history of France and Italy. I can use placeholder names. I can leave XXX marks. I can’t write like Tanith Lee for an entire novel (hell, I can barely write like Tanith Lee for an entire short story) but maybe I can write like myself instead.

Now I just have to do it.

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