Saturday, March 22, 2014

World Jumping

As a reader, I’ve never had a problem jumping worlds. I can hop from Narnia or Middle Earth to Hogwarts to the Glade to Veronica Roth’s futuristic Chicago (occasionally all in one day) and have zero trouble completely immersing myself in each world without them really bleeding into each other. If I’m in a book, I’m all in. If you ask me to do the dishes or walk the dog, I will not hear you because in my head I’m busy following Katniss through the arena or trying to figure out what Eugenides is really up to in Attolia. Likewise as a writer of mostly MG fantasy, if I’m stuck on one story, I can usually hop from it to another and sink right into the new world without a second thought. Sure, they have some similarities. I have a fascination with castles (and evil queens if you ask one my critique partners), but there are plenty of societal differences between the worlds too.

Since I’ve never had a problem with this, it came as a bit of a shock to me when I got stuck on my YA fantasy. This is the one I began during NaNoWriMo ’13. Since November is one of my busier months as a teacher (end of first quarter and parent-teacher conferences) I actually turned it into NaNoWriMos by including December. I got about 2/3 of the way through and finished outlining the last third, but I realized I needed to do a bit more research into Joan of Arc and other teenage girls who got armies to follow them before actually writing the last third. I probably won’t have time for the depth of research that entails until spring break, so I started revising the horrible fast-draft that included a lot of  and-then-this-happeneds. Despite my VERY busy February, revisions were actually going pretty well.

Enter last weekend.

I mentioned that I finally bit the bullet and sent out query letters for one of my MG fantasy novels. I was super happy with my manuscript’s final-for-now revisions. It had gone through five or six rounds of revisions, and I was positive it was as polished as possible. Until I got a request for a full.

Then I panicked.

I spent all of last weekend reading through it just to be sure. (And two awesome friends read through it looking for typos as well.) Between the three of us we did find several typos/missing words that I’d somehow overlooked the last eleventy-billion times I read it over, so I’m very glad I didn’t send it right away.

At any rate, once I did send it, in order to (try to) keep myself from obsessing, I returned to the YA fantasy revisions only to feel like I’d smacked headlong into a tree. I worked at it for a few days, but anything I wrote just fell flat. While this was frustrating, I wasn’t too worried. I’ve had people mention to me that they have a hard time jumping from project to project/world to world. I’d never had this problem before, but there’s a first time for everything and I figured something about this particular world wasn’t working for me right now.

 Since the best cure for writer’ s block is to write, I started going through my other files and stumbled upon a MG sci-fi I had sort of outlined over a year ago before deciding I needed to do more research. As I played around with it, I found the words flowing pretty easily, despite it being set in such a drastically different world than any of my fantasies. That’s when I realized jumping worlds wasn’t the problem; shifting voices was. Having just spent a lot of time reading my MG voice, I’m finding it difficult to find my YA voice again.

Now that I’ve identified the problem, hopefully I’ll be able to overcome it soon. In the mean time, I’ll keep having fun with a couple of ten-year-olds aboard a spaceship.

P.S. If anyone else has run into the same problem, I'd love to hear about it. Especially if you have any quick fixes! :)


  1. No fixes, sorry.
    I *do* have this peculiar problem of not being able to write more than one book at a time. I'm also the only person I know who can only read one book at a time.
    Your ability to tackle so much at once is amazing.

  2. I know what you mean. Years ago, when my focus was on short stories and articles, I often worked on two or three projects at a time. With novels, I have trouble jumping back and forth. Have fun with the spaceship story!

  3. Ugh. I have a MG fantasy type manuscript that I began writing about a year and a half ago, and I am completely stuck on some major world building elements. And I've been busy with requested rewrites on another manuscript, so there hasn't been time to focus on unsticking the stuck one. Usually I can work out big problems during the normal course of my writing process, but that particular story is proving to be a giant ball of problems. I'm hoping to get back to it in the fall.
    Good luck on your unsticking!