It’s a bit funny (and maybe a tad annoying) how quickly I can change my mind about something. Really, I never make up my mind about anything. I float on a bubble of indecision, being tossed to and fro in the wind.
Remember my story Fallen Matter? If you were around here any time last year I’m sure you do. That’s basically the only thing I blogged about all year. Saying it took over my life is a bit of an understatement. It consumed every fiber of my being. As a result, I had every intention of rewriting it this year and polishing it up to the point of querying with it. I’ve never done that, queried, and I think it’s high time I took that next step in my writing. But to do that, I need an actual novel ready for such. My laptop is full of first drafts, but not a thing polished. So Fallen Matter was going to be it. I was finally going to really rewrite and polish something. I even started reading through the document and jotting down notes.
Then last weekend happened and my little bubble swooped and swirled in an entirely different direction.
On February 1st I woke up, snatched up my tablet, and loaded the winning results of a fairytale Beauty and the Beast contest put together by Rooglewood Press that I had entered. The contest was to write a Beauty and the Beast novella 20k words or under. Five winners would be chosen to have their entries put together in one beautiful collection. And February 1st was the day they announced the winners.
With pounding heart, I scrolled through the list of names, the five winning entries and, well, my name and my story, Burning Thorns, wasn’t there. But an odd thing happened. Instead of the expected disappointment, I had this strange sense of. . .peace.
All that week I had thought about my novella, and I couldn’t stop. I kept thinking and thinking how fun it would be to expound it from a 20k word story to a full out novel. While writing it, I had so many subplots and ideas I wanted to explore but couldn’t due to the word count limit. So when I discovered Burning Thorns wasn’t to be one of the novellas in the collection, I realized now I could. Now Burning Thorns could be shaped and formed and expounded into anything I wanted it to be. So instead of disappointment, I felt excitement for the possibilities ahead.
My true love has always been medieval fantasy and fairytales. For the past couple years I’ve tentatively slipped out of my comfort zone and explored new things—steampunk, modern fantasy, sci-fi—and if I’ve learned anything it’s that stepping out of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for your writing. I’ve learned so, so much from writing stories different from my usual medieval fantasy novels. But sometimes your comfort zone is that for a reason. I love tales set in medieval type worlds full of whimsies and fantasies and otherwordly beauty. It’s permanently ingrained into my very being.
Writing Fallen Matter was an escapade I’ll never forget, and that story will forever be near and dear to my heart, but settling into Burning Thorns feels. . .right. To be honest, I’ve never written a fairytale retelling, but I’ve wanted to for years and years and years, and fairytales still have that medieval setting that will always be home to me. It’s the sort of thing I’m meant to write.
I’ve whiled away at a lot of stories. Writing first drafts and then abandoning them. Never rewriting them or keeping at it until they’re perfect. I’ve done it for 13 years. But I’m tired of that. It’s time I settled on one project and stick to it. And I really want Burning Thorns to be that project. It just feels right. It’s got that classic fairytale feel that I’ve loved since I was a very, very young, my entire life, really. And not only that, Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairytale. It’s something special to me. Turning Burning Thorns into the best it can be would be an honor.
Sure, there was definitely disappointment when I discovered I didn’t win the Rooglewood Press contest. Self doubt came with it. Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I shouldn’t be writing at all. Why do I even bother? But then I realized how much I had gained from that contest. It was the very first thing I’ve ever submitted any of my writing into, which was a huge milestone for me. I made some friends along the way. Discovered that I can actually write a full story that isn’t 100k+ words. And I now have a new story that I love in my arsenal, something I can strive to make beautiful. Maybe Burning Thorns is just meant to be a novel. I didn’t lose anything from that contest. With each story we write our craft grows. I wouldn’t have this novel or all the knowledge I gained through writing it if not for the contest. I’m so grateful for it. And now I have something new to pour my heart and soul into, something I love. Something that feels like me.
All that to say, never stop chasing your dream, no matter the bumps in the road. Sometimes those bumps can toss you somewhere even better.
As for Fallen Matter, it may still get a rewrite in the near future. There’s a chance I’ll juggle both projects at once, and if one decides to dominate the other, that’s fine. I don’t mind too much my little bubble being shoved wherever it may go. I believe we should write what’s closest to our hearts, what gets us excited. So whatever that is, I’m looking forward to it!
All in all, the contest did wonderful things for me. But not only that, we’re soon to have an absolutely thrilling looking Beauty and the Beast collection in our hands from Rooglewood Press! Go look for yourself! You can even add it to your GoodReads. Seriously, you’re going to want to. Just from the blurbs I can tell why those novellas were chosen. I get chills just reading about them and canNOT wait to get my hands on that collection! It’s going to be beautiful.
I want to give a big CONGRATULATIONS to all five talented writers! I’m counting the days to when I get to read each of your stories.
Exciting stuff right there!
And don’t be surprised, dear readers, if you get even more Beauty and the Beast exposure from me. You’ll probably start seeing a lot of Burning Thorns talk around my blog this year. What can I say? Once a story has gripped me it’s everything I can do to stay away. Not that I want to.