I hadn’t read any of Ellis for months. Gingerbread, or whatever title really is, took me just over a year and a bit to write, which isn’t fast and perhaps doesn’t bode well – but there were 3-ish drafts in there, and a couple of short stories and the general life things.
I write primarily for myself- i think those of us that started early, when we were small things, write for ourselves first, and other folks second – it’s a way to make sense of the nonsensical, a way to put ourselves out into the great vast whatever in a quiet and deliberate way. I think it’s why, aside from short stories, I don’t have the same urgency for book-publication that some folks do, although it’s there, just in a smaller, more subtle way. Kind of. Mostly I think it’s a serious cause of OMG I WILL FAIL syndrome (I am not a risk taker at all. I’m not sure if it’s a personal failing or just means I’m SUPER DEPENDABLE (although I also get super excited when people read a thing I wrote and like it. Maybe I’m deluded). Man, is the all-caps a side-result of reading Felicia Day’s memoir over the last few days? MAYBE!) ed note: this doesn’t mean I don’t want my books published, it just means I gotta get past whatever interiorbrain hurdles are getting in my way. okay? OKAY.
I went through chapter one of Ellis this morning, building a mind map (I use mind node, now) of the chapters – i don’t use mind mapping for brainstorming because it feels too organized and too deliberate for a “storm” (as if nature isn’t deliberate, but work with me on this metaphor thingy here), but I use it as a visual way to gather my outline/thoughts/major plot points. I say this like I have a Process, but really I started using the mapping software when I realized that writing Gingerbread out of order was really, really screwing me up and I needed a way to put things in place and make fix with the jaggy puzzle pieces that upon first glance had nowhere to go.
And it helped.
So I’m using it again because it’ll help me identify the bits of Ellis – no surprise to anyone who has written a thing ever – I stalled out on it in (you guessed it!) the Middle. 29, 000 words and Bam! It’s like I’m a creative cliche or something. But even reading the first chapter, I find I’m super happy to be back in Ellis’ world – from a writing-craft standpoint it feels way more me than Gingerbread – although Gingerbread is probably clearer and more accessible and still contains the themes I use all the time: makeshift families, atypical relationships, winter, blood, gargoyles, vampires etc. etc. etc. Oh, vampires. It’s like I never got the memo that they were old news (but I super love my head vampire guy. He’s so damn nice. Mostly). If I ever write a sequel, there’s werewolves too. Yup, that’s me, lacking originality since 1971 (not true: I rule).
There are no vampires in Ellis, ps. NARY A ONE. Oh, there’s angels though, at least in the first draft, also fortune tellers. If my writing came with a bingo card, i would win every time. There’s rain, though, and snow. And it’s winter in Gingerbread and i wonder if i should have made it more wintery, because people believe winter in Canada is made of horrid (it is, for like 2 weeks), but frostbite didn’t really work with the plan (I had no plan).
I had a point to this, I swear. I just lost it. Imagine that.
But starting on Ellis again made me think of all of the things I love about the world: the twisted Alice in Wonderland-ness, where the Alice is a city architect who built the version of the world Ellis falls into when she gets involved in the mysterious death of the feller-across-the-street. My unrequited love (he died before they met. OH TRAGIC. It’s practically Nicholas Sparks!), the Alice’s relationship with Basil & Alastar, teacups and clockwork rabbits. It has made up words and flowers are poison. It’s good times, yo. Like, it makes me want to curl up in a blanket that smells like cinnamon and burnt leaves.
(what I love about Gingerbread: that the bad guy isn’t a bad guy at all, not even kind of. My ace MC, Haven, and her hetero-romantic relationship with her one-true-love-bff, their cozy house, the vampire’s house, a blood cult hiding actual vampires, evil flowers (Oh, a theme, rose thou art sick and all that), and mysterious safehouse that might show up if I write another book in the same world. Altor!).
I’ve thought about what might come next, after these two. I had the idea of the kids who meet in high school (HEX) one of whom is related to Crowely, the other to LaVey, but after that it doesn’t go anywhere, and if you look close i hinted at Crowely in Gingerbread anyway – not the person, but the philosophy.
So what then? Another retold story? I love Little Red Riding Hood, and I’ve been thinking she’d made a nice addition to Hansel & Gretel and Alice in Wonderland, but no matter how much I dwell on it, ain’t nothin’ showin’ up. So.
I guess not.
I’m all rambly.