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04 | Hello, first draft of new novel!

(The crying is important)

And hello early newsletter! Some news: In the final hours of August, I did something I’m still reeling from. I finished the first draft of my new novel, Seeker of the Lost Song!

I wrote in my last post about the history of this novel’s development, about how I had started working on an iteration of it four years ago, but that it was only about four months ago that I hit on the right combination of setting + plot that unlocked everything. Yet, even though I knew I would finish the novel at the end of August, I still found it hard to understand that I’d actually done it.

My husband was at work that day, and so I was looking forward to having the house to myself as I wrote the final few chapters. I knew I would be emotional. I had a whole ritual planned out:

  1. McDonald’s breakfast

  2. Ignore world

  3. Listen to Genesis (Peter Gabriel era) while writing

  4. Listen specifically to The Carpet Crawlers while writing final chapter

  5. Cry!

  6. Holy shit it’s 2.30

The crying was important. Well, more correctly, it was expected. I wrote the final chapter of The Quiet is Loud while crying, and I had a feeling the same would be necessary here. I would want the catharsis of it. After four years with these characters living alongside me, existing seemingly without my involvement at times, I knew that finishing their story would be bittersweet.

After I finished the novel, I celebrated with wings and beer. For a few days I still woke up at 5am thinking about them, their story. And then my depression got all existential on me. Over the past few months, it really did feel at times that the ideas, the things my characters were doing, were coming to me from some other plane rather than my own mind, and I was nothing more than a conduit between the story and the page. It was tough to awaken back into the real world from that altered state of creativity.

I’m currently editing the draft, which I’m glad for. Not only because it means I can still create with these characters for a little while longer, but I’m also pleasantly surprised by how much I like just reading the novel. A good sign!

PS, what I’ve been listening to:

Earlier, I mentioned that I listened to Peter Gabriel-era Genesis while writing this novel, and I really think it served as inspiration to my writing process in general. Peter Gabriel was just so wonderfully weird in Genesis, performing in-character wearing elaborate costumes, singing such absurd and vividly narrative lyrics with seemingly his entire being, as if someone was trying to take singing away from him.

At some point I broke my long-held “no listening to music with lyrics while writing rule” and found myself turning to Genesis’ Foxtrot, Selling England By the Pound, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway albums over and over again. Even though I am nowhere near as out there as Gabriel was in Genesis, I’ve always craved his creative, no-fucks-to-be-had energy for my own work. My novel is fantasy, yet closer to low fantasy than any other sub-genre. It’s character-driven, its magic thrumming in the background for much of it. Yet, while the Genesis songs I listened to weren’t direct inspirations for my novel, by osmosis I received Gabriel’s delicious fantastical weirdness and filtered it through my own lens into my writing.

I have to be honest: it was really fucking fun.

Thanks for reading,
- Sg.

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