Finished a draft of my third YA novel!

Hello friends. You know, I have during my life read a lot of posts on author blogs where they’re like, “I’m on deadline for a book, so you won’t see much of me for the next few weeks.” And I’ve always wondered why: writing a book isn’t that time-consuming—it takes a few hours a day—and writing blog posts isn’t that time-consuming either, it takes about thirty minutes. Moreover, if you’re a writer, when are you not working on something? What does it matter if you’re close to deadline or not—you’re always working.

Welp, as the deadline for my third YA novel, Just Happy To Be Here approached, I just naturally fell off posting here. So now I know! Somehow the blog just became a lower priority. And now that I’ve completed a draft, I find myself writing a post again.

Yes, I’ve completed a draft! Yay!!!! I’m very happy with it. As always happens to me lately, as I write my books I’m like, wow, this is so dangerous and transgressive—nobody else has ever written anything like this before. It’s pretty cool. In this case, I deviated early on from my synopsis in one small but major way—I decided to have my main character be pre-HRT. So, biologically, in some sense (not up on the terminology), she’s unchanged from before she started identifying as a girl. And she’s now in an all-girl’s school. I just thought it was really cool, and it’ll be really empowering for other kids to see that, you know, there’s more to gender than hormones and biology.

There are SO few trans girls in YA that I don’t think there’s actually even been a straightforward coming out story yet. And this won’t be one of those—personally, I like coming-out stories—I think writing a trans girl’s coming out would be super cool—but I more or less skipped over most of that, so I could just write a book about a girl who’s kind of in the early-middle stages. In fact, over the course of the book, she starts realizing that to other trans girls, she’s now, like, a role model.

Anyway, scattered, inchoate thoughts. I like the book. It’s has a lot of themes: mostly it’s about nature of leadership and the workings of power, but, as always, the characters are the core of the story. They surprise you, gaining new depth as you write. Unlike most of my stories—this book has outright villains—but I found myself empathizing with most of them, and I liked the little human touches I added. I also found myself really liking my protagonist—she’s different from the protagonist of my first two books—more diffident—less driven—her ambitions are kind of vague—she just wants to have the girlhood she always imagined herself having—and it was fun to see how that lack of deep, driving ambition played out in the story.

Lots of revision to do, of course. My stories often get a bit bogged down in the second half with twists and turns and set-pieces, and this was no exception. I need to take a hard look at the structure and see what can afford to go. That’s why, instead of tinkering with the book, I’m gonna set it aside, look at it fresh in a few weeks, then do some major cutting / revising before turning it in on November 1st. Then my editor will have notes, etc, but I think it’s gonna be good. It’s gonna be good.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten comments back from friends about my literary book, The Default World, and I’m interested in trying to use this time to revise that a bit, though I’m not sure how realistic that ambition might be. I’ve been feeling super lazy all morning, so it’s possible I won’t really get much done on that front.

In other news, I have two acceptances to announce. I tried my hand at writing one of those long, magisterial intellectual essays that you see in all the “Review of Books” type journals. This one is about the myth of the classical education and how elites were never as well-educated as we make them out to be—the classical education was really more of a middle-class aspiration than an elite actuality. The core points may or may not be true, but I argued them well enough, I think! Excited that this’ll be coming out in the Los Angeles Review of Books on November 15th. And I also had a poem accepted by a literary journal, Cherry Tree. Oh! And my story “Matriphagy” is out in the current issue of Asimov’s. So that’s a bunch of good stuff right there. I’ve been staying busy on the short fiction, essay, poetry front, though my writings, especially my short fiction, have become really strange lately—have been moving away from naturalistic prose and sentence structure and have been using some techniques I’ve glossed from Middle and Old English. Definitely wouldn’t work at novel length and potentially don’t work at short story length either, but we’ll see.