So yesterday, I worked every free moment I had on the “final exam” of the Letters prequel. It was exhausting. I wrestled a paragraph and rested. I wrote in the morning before work, over lunch, after work before dinner, and finally, stumbled over the finish line.
After I tweeted about how exhausted I felt, May and Soleil kindly offered to read, and while I felt like I’d been rolling around in broken glass to finish it, I took them up on that offer. The last thing I want to do is post something that’s not good, really good.
And darn it, May thought it had some problems. Oh, it was written pretty well, I think, certainly overwritten–it needed to be trimmed and tightened–but there was a really big problem lurking in those pages. Although it was pretty hot, it was too clean. Too tidy. Or in other words, it wasn’t rough enough. Maybe that’s why I was so exhausted–I was fighting the story.
See, I’ve been working on a tricky balance in this Prequel. It has to be good. It has to be something people will read and want to continue reading Dear Sir, I’m Yours when it releases. I mean, that’s the whole point, really, to hook people into buying it who may be on the fence. However, the reality is that the upcoming final exam has to be so bad that it sends Rae running for five years.
So you see my dilemma. If my hero comes off as an asshole in the freebie prequel, who’s going to buy the book?
Conn will be the first to admit that he can be an insufferable bastard on occasion. This is one of those occasions. Yet I realized that in trying to keep him from coming off as a total bastard, I’d made him a different kind of bastard all together. I pulled his punches. Hell, I even pulled Rae’s punches. I cleaned them up and dressed them in their Sunday best and sat them all prim and proper to eat vanilla ice cream with his big desk between them, and they are both so pissed at me that Conn is contemplating throwing his biggest anthology at my head and Rae has the shotgun out that she reserves for her ex-husband.
Self-editing at its worst.
I was afraid of what people would think. I was afraid of the very characters that I’d created. I was afraid to crack open that door to their darkest moment and let all that ugliness spill out. I did the same thing with Gregar when he finally approached his heart’s desire. I took away his ivory rahke and told him to go forth and be good, and he tried, bless his heart. But it wasn’t him.
I created a dark, larger than life character, and then in his spotlight in the darkest hour, I flinched. I took away Dr. Connagher’s mask but slapped another one in its place. I didn’t let the real Conn–who Rae loves and fears–show through.
So no snippet today and maybe tomorrow. I need to rework what I have. I need to let Rae begin with the power she thinks she has, and then bring her to the realization that she has none whatsoever. And then I need to let Conn get that pretty white skirt that she wore to tempt him just a little bit dirty.