So I have stuff in submission for the first time since BLOODANGEL sold to Roc/Penguin. BLOODANGEL was a one-book deal, and I think one reason why it took me longer than I had originally planned to ‘get in the game again’ with a ready manuscript was because I felt a bit confused about my next move. BLOODANGEL sequel? I hadn’t originally planned on the book being some kind of series — although obviously I do like the idea — but I also knew the story as I wanted to tell it had been left unfinished. Short of making it an 800-page saga — or longer — all the threads in my head weren’t going to get neatly woven into one nifty little book, so rather than try to force a pat ending I left a few open places, since the main conflicts and questions do get resolved. But what if the first book tanked and nobody wanted the second (or any other book, for that matter, written under the name Justine Musk, which would mean starting all over again under a pseudonym, which would be rather ironic since many people assume ‘Justine Musk’ is already some kind of pseudonym, as in “She chose that for a pen name?”)*
Also, there was this other book I really wanted to write, and did, except the first draft sucked eggs, and I realized the book just wasn’t ready to be written. (I still plan to write it, because I’m in absolute love with the story, but I want to be wise enough and seasoned enough as a novelist to knock the thing out of the park.) And I had this idea for a YA novel that had been kicking around my head ever since I saw LOST BOYS a few too many times in high school…and, after the multiple-perspective, intricately-plotted sprawl of BLOODANGEL, I was itching to do something shorter, streamlined, told from the perspective of one single character. (The first draft that sucked eggs had been an attempt to do exactly this, until I realized that that particular story wants to be another multiple-perspective jigsaw of a thing.) I suddenly realized that a YA novel would be an ideal form for this, and I’d had this one idea since high school, and I really liked writing from the teenage viewpoint of Ramsey in BLOODANGEL, so…And I’m glad things worked out this way, because STRANGER turns out to be the book I needed to write at that particular time, and it taught me a lot, and I feel good about it. I have this feeling that the villian — the Stranger himself — will carry over into other novels as I continue to develop my own personal fictional universe.
And now the book I want and need to write really is BLOODANGEL part two, or whatever I’ll end up calling it, and so I submitted 50 pages and a synopsis in to my agent who will presumably pass it on to my editor unless she decides it sucks eggs, in which case I shall revise. I am not skilled in synopses, and in my eagerness to convey the book as a whole — to prove that I actually do have an entire structure in my head, since I’ve never tried to make a case for a book I haven’t finished yet — I think I made the synop. too damn long. Classic, critical error. I kick myself.
When I’m writing, I feel good; even when I’m writing crap, I feel confident, because I know I’ll either revise it into something good or, hell, just move on to something else. (To paraphrase David Bowie, who rules, “Art is a plane crash that you can walk away from”.) But when it comes to dealing with the stuff outside and around the writing, I feel like a babe in the woods, trying to grope my way along without stumbling into a beartrap or crashing into a ditch.
I’m sure I’ll feel better (i.e. more optimistic) after some sleep. I am tired and bitchy and recovering from car problems.
Car problems make you bitter.
*For those who are curious, Musk is my married name. I started out as Justine Wilson — if you google ‘Justine Wilson’ you might even find some stuff online I wrote years ago — if, that is, you can fish me out from the millions of other Justine Wilsons out there. Which is the great advantage of the name Musk. The other, of course, is sharing the name with such wildly esteemed animals as the muskrat, say, or the lesser-known but equally fabulous Siberian musk deer.