- The shipping question still stands. It’s built to be ambiguous at this point. I do a lot of back-and-forth with myself about What Kind of Story I Want to Create. The expected thing, the thing that everyone considers to be the only acceptable happy ending, is a tidy hetero ride-off-into-the-sunset. But I want to believe that platonic friendship means something, and can be a happy ending on its own. Then I start wondering whether this, particularly, is the best story to use for that idea. Some of the other story ideas in my stash could run along that path, instead.
Part of me wants to fight back against the idea that there is only one acceptable happy ending. Another part of me wants to be liked, and resists dying on an ideological hill. I fear that making either decision will be untrue to the characters in some way, and that’s what I want to avoid above all. I’m not trying to make a million dollars here, obviously. I want to write a story that I feel is true to itself. But that’s not always clear, either.
Besides, Kei/Nelle/Agna is my OT3, but Nelle won’t leave the caravan. /troll
- Where to Go from Here: The plot for THH had been seeded back in THR, across half a dozen passing mentions of Wildern, Agna’s father’s business, etc. I wasn’t entirely sure that all of these elements would come together cleanly, so that was the challenge of making this story work. I do plan to write a third part — everyone loves trilogies, and I think this story needs it — so the challenge is similar at this stage.
- So, Your Friend Plays the Lute?: My musical diet during the writing of this book leaned heavily on twee indie-style pop and queasily Mormonish arena lite-rock, plus the soundtrack to Undertale, a video game I played while finishing the second draft. I suppose an excess of earnestness is the common thread there.
A short playlist that may or may not make everyone ill, your mileage may vary:
Regina Spektor, “Two Birds”
Ingrid Michaelson, “Soldier”
Imagine Dragons, “It’s Time”
Elle King, “America’s Sweetheart” (“Song of Sorrow” is Bargi’s main song, but not at this point)
Ingrid Michaelson, “The Chain” (live)
Regina Spektor, “All the Rowboats”
Tears for Fears, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Radical Face, “Welcome Home”
Ingrid Michaelson, “Are We There Yet”
- Cut & Shuffle: The first two or three chapters written for this story ended up being cut and set aside for Book 3, because it would have felt like a distraction instead of the act-ending set piece they were intended to be. The first two chapters of arriving in Wildern were cut for the first draft and reinstated for the second, as had happened with The Healers’ Road. The whole middle section (when Agna goes home) was initially written/arranged with all of Keifon’s plotline first, then Agna’s, because that was closer to chronological order as I’d initially intended. Interleaving the two was my Ultimate Beta Reader’s suggestion. Taijiang and Whalen also jumped up from a book 3 introduction to book 2.
- One Step at a Time: Early in 2015, I picked up a message-board challenge to write every day for 100 days. I creaked through that fine, though I hadn’t kept track of how much I wrote, just that I wrote at all — to establish the habit. Later that year, most of THH was written during a similar challenge with my husband: we would both write at least 500 words a day (a couple of solid paragraphs’ worth), every day, no exceptions. After 100 days, we kept going, and after a while some friends joined in with their own writing projects. At the time that the second draft of THH was finished, my record was 178 days in a row, and my husband’s was 278 days. Neither of us are full-time writers, so we had to carve out a little time to devote to this thing that we love. It isn’t fast, but it works. I finally set down my streak of 500 words per day after a little over a year, to focus on editing the final draft of THH and planning another book.
- Originally there was an additional member of Agna’s board of investors: another lumber baron, a competitor to Vogal and West Pine. He added the least to the story, so now all that’s left is a statue of one of his ancestors in the market square. Sucks to be you, guy!