A Change in Plans

Last week, I posted about all my current writing plans and what I’m working on.

I should have known better.

Because something happened that I did not expect, and I found myself on a slight detour.

Remember that story I talked about and shared a snippet of? The Rapunzel-inspired-selkies-and-fae involving story that grabbed hold of me by the throat during my writing hiatus in March and wouldn’t let go?

Well, as I said, I gave up and started devoting a little bit of time to it. I thought if I wrote 100-200 words a day on it, that would be a good start until Towers of Might and Memory was done and then I could focus on it more.

But there was a problem. Every time I opened up Towers, I hit major writer’s block. And it wasn’t just your normal everyday garden variety writer’s block that I can normally muscle through with the right music and some word sprints. This was a full-blown paralysis of the fingers. I would open the document and struggle for every single word I wrote. I felt like I was dragging the story along behind me kicking and screaming by its hair.

Meanwhile, every time I opened up this fairy tale, the words flowed effortlessly. I would set out to write 200 words and 15 minutes later I’d have 1200 new words and I couldn’t have told you where they came from. This new story, it seemed, was dragging me kicking and screaming!

The story literally wouldn’t let me go. I would stare out the window and hear an entire conversation playing out in my head. Whole chapters unfurled effortlessly in my imagination. I was dreaming entire scenes of this story… and the dreams still made sense when I woke up!

Then one day, as I was getting ready for the day, I was thinking about Samuel. The Biblical Samuel. For those of you not familiar with his story, when Samuel was a young boy, he worked for Eli, a priest in the temple. One night, he hears a voice calling him, “Samuel! Samuel!” Thinking his master is calling, Samuel gets up and trots on over to where Eli is sleeping and asks him what he needs. Eli groggily waves him away, saying, “I didn’t call you, go back to sleep!”

This happens two more times!

The third time, Eli (by now possibly fully awake) realizes that his young charge is hearing the voice of the Lord and tells him to go back to bed. “If you hear the voice again, say, ‘Here I am, Lord, your servant is listening,’” he instructs.

It is so easy for us to shake our heads at the people we read about in the Bible. Often, I have caught myself wondering, “How could they be so stupid as not to realize what was going on?” God SPOKE OUT LOUD to them, for crying out loud! How could they miss that?

As I was thinking about this story (for no particular reason) it suddenly hit me and I sort of dropped everything I was doing and asked, “Wait… Lord… am I the idiot here?”

(side-note: I talked to a friend about this whole situation and she laughed and said “Lord, Am I the Idiot?” would be a great title for a book in and of itself)

As I mulled this over, I started to realize that maybe my writer’s block on Towers hasn’t been exactly normal. And the speed and ease with which this other story (which I’m currently calling “The Summer Princess” though that is a seriously rough working title) is not at all normal. So I prayed about it for a while. I wanted to work on Summer Princess, but I felt guilty “abandoning” Turrim Archive. So I talked to my husband about it. He is more organized than I am, and we’ve been pressing toward this deadline with Turrim Archive, so I figured if anyone would be able to talk me out of focusing all my efforts on Summer Princess, it would be him.

But he didn’t.

He didn’t even try.

Instead, he thoughtfully said that if I felt so strongly that God was directing my writing in a specific direction, then I shouldn’t fight it, and that I could pick up Towers again when this new project was finished.

I’m not sure what will happen with this story, but I am… considering some things I have not seriously considered before… like… querying it out to actual traditional publishers when it’s finished! (feel free to gasp) That was another thing Derek said when I explained to him the struggle I was having. He said that maybe we should try getting a traditional publisher for this one (which made my jaw drop open in surprise, partially because we have always been on the same page about my being happily self-published, and partially because I’d already had that thought!) I don’t know. I can’t say what will happen with this story with regards to publishing. All I know is that writing it is an act of obedience, and has so far been the easiest and most pleasant experience I’ve ever had when writing anything. I’m almost scared to say that out loud, but it’s true.

I’m not going to share much about the story at this time, but I am SO excited about this one, and I can’t wait for you all to read it! The one thing I will share, is that I’ve been periodically adding to a Pinterest Board for this story for a while, and I decided to unhide it last week, so you can go look at it HERE. I’d love to know what you think of it!

Fellow authors, have you ever felt dragged along behind a story?
Dear readers, have you ever read a story that just wouldn’t let you go, even after you’d finished reading it?

 

 

~ jenelle

20 Comments

Reynwood

The first story I ever finished and actually published was the story that dragged me along behind it. I felt more like a spectator and recorder of events than any real mastermind behind all of it. But that was all when I was a far less . . . ‘informed’ writer, I guess, before I really started getting into ‘how to write a book’. I’ve been struggling ever since.
But yes, it was my first story that took me for quite the ride!

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jenelle

It’s super fun! I felt like my first book also ran away with me, but it was different than this.

I’m sorry you’ve been struggling ever since, though! That’s no fun!

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DJ Edwardson

So glad to hear you’re making such fantastic progress, even though Turrim is the story I’m personally more interested in. God certainly moves in ways we could never foresee. I hope this story turns out to be something special for you!

Pretty much all my stories are written the way you describe, though, so to me, what you are experiencing sounds pretty normal! C.S. Lewis described writing like an itch you have to scratch, and that’s pretty much the way it is with me. If only I had more time to write!

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jenelle

Don’t worry! Turrim Archive is not getting “shelved” by any stretch of the imagination! Just… delayed a little. My goal is to finish this story by the end of July, though if writing continues to go as it has been, it will be sooner!

That’s incredible!

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Christine

Awww, Jenelle! This makes me happy. I love it when God derails our plans for something even better! It’s so special knowing the Creator of the Universe cares so deeply for ALL our interests and passions.

That is so amazing how easily this book is flowing for you! I certainly won’t complain one teeny tiny bit about you taking time out to work on a fairy tale retelling! :D I’m just THRILLED for you about all of this!

I do hope it continues to go wonderfully! (Also DAT PINTEREST BOARD. *drools*)

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jenelle

So true! It is incredibly special. And humbling.

Thanks so much!! I am enjoying this story and just kind of hanging on for the ride… but it’s super fun.

Me too! (And thank you!!!! I’m happy that people are enjoying the sneak peek!)

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beckythemothling

Oh, yes, I love it when a story does that! And it is SO RARE. Those types of stories are a gift.

Although I also hate it when a story WILL NOT WRITE, so…sympathies. I’ve been having some stronger-than-usual writer’s block this year, probably because I’ve been through some pretty stressful things, but I think I’m starting to get better. But sometimes we need to take a break before we can get back on track! Hopefully you’ll be able to come back to it with new eyes after you finish your other story.

I’ve always loved the realism of the Samuel and Eli story. I don’t think most people would put it together right away that God was calling them, especially at Samuel’s age? Most more down-to-earth people would have said, ‘oh, it must have been a dream,’ or something like that. Sometimes it’s hard to realize when God is trying to tell you something. I think that’s one of the bible stories I related to more easily.

And I love your pinterest board! It’s so green and pretty, yet just a little bit dark. Does Rapunzel really have red hair? I noticed a lot of redheads :-)

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jenelle

Ugh, writer’s block is the worst. I hope you can get past it and back to the easier flow of writing soon!

That’s true, the story is very real, and true to life. From our perspective, reading the story, it becomes easy to assume we would do better or understand more rapidly… but then when we are in the midst of it, it isn’t so easy as we thought it looked!

Well… *my* Rapunzel has reddish hair. :) :) (This story is going to be about as “based on” Rapunzel as Frozen can be said to be “based on” the Snow Queen… “loosely inspired by” is a far better descriptor!!) hehe

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beckythemothling

Yes, it is. There’s not really a one-size-fits-all answer for writer’s block, either. Sometimes it’s one’s own lack of self-confidence, sometimes it’s a problem in the story that needs to be changed, sometimes it’s super confusing and no one knows why it’s there…But it’s always infuriating.

I remember that when I was little, I opened up my older sister’s college textbook and read a paragraph about literary criticism. It was talking about how some people dismiss Hamlet and say his actions don’t make sense, and that he shouldn’t have stalled so much (or something like that, I haven’t read Hamlet yet and it has been a LONG time since I read the paragraph). But it explained that Hamlet doesn’t know the ending, and that he doesn’t know for certain if the villain is evil. He’s going off the word of a ghost, who could be lying or have some motive he’s not telling him, and it’s not exactly proof. It really made me think about how I approached stories, and to make sure I was looking at things from the character’s perspective rather than assuming the character is omniscient. Accidentally assuming a character knows the ending is easy to do. But you’re right, it’s really not so easy when you’re in the midst of it!

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beckythemothling

Oh, and by the way, are there selkies in your story? I just realized there were baby seals on your board. (If so, I love selkies to the moon and back.)

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jenelle

I’m pretty sure I’ve read that particular paragraph about Hamlet somewhere. Possibly in college :-D I took a couple of classes on Shakespeare because: English major, but I picked Shakespeare because I love him to pieces. I like Hamlet. But Henry V is my FAVORITE. And Twelfth Night.

Yes! There are selkies in my story.

I’m also starting to realize that not very many people know what selkies even are… which is anathema to me, as I run so deeply in speculative fiction circles and have read SO many fairy tales… I just thought they were as well-known as mermaids, but that does not appear to be the case, which is making for some interesting struggles as I write the story!

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beckythemothling

I thought everyone knew what selkies were, too! I read Celtic fairy tales ALL THE TIME when I was little. I love fairies. It’s a shame that more people aren’t introduced to those stories!

It’s such a weird experience when you think something is common knowledge, and it turns out to be a thing only a few people know. I started writing a King Arthur retelling, and while I haven’t necessarily grown up hearing the King Arthur stories in their original form, I did grow up with the Squire’s Tales series, which was a King Arthur retelling. Apparently I knew more about them as a kid than most people, just from what I’m seeing. I had no idea the legends were such a niche thing.

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jenelle

It’s crazy!

In my “Destined for Greatness” I reference two fairy tales I thought were super common knowledge: Jack and the Beanstalk, and the one where the girl helps an old woman who turns out to be a fairy and she is rewarded by having jewels drop out of her mouth whenever she speaks. So far, I have only had ONE reader who was familiar with both stories! Thankfully, having previous knowledge of the stories is not necessary to enjoy mine, but still, it really surprised me!

I’m excited about your Arthur retelling! I’ve a soft spot for all things Arthurian Legend! :)

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beckythemothling

That’s weird, I would think those would both be really common, especially Jack and the Beanstalk. But maybe I just grew up reading Brother’s Grimm? I had this huge collection of Brothers Grimm fairy tales that I would read all the time growing up, and it included the fairy tales that were deleted from the later editions. I was blessed :-)

Thank you! I love Arthurian legend too! I put the story from Mordred’s point of view, and wow having such a different perspective changes things so much. I need to get to work on that story, I only have a few chapters down, but I love the idea of it so much, and I love the characters :-)

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E.F.B.

*looks at the Pinterest* ARE THERE SELKIES IN THIS STORY?! *excited flailing* There are not enough stories with selkies in them. This book sounds amazing, Jenelle! It’s inspiring to me to read about how the Lord is guiding you in this. <3 I'm looking forward to everything you wish to share with us about this book and especially to one day reading it!

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jenelle

*MASSIVE GRIN* awwwwwww squee! Thank you for this awesome comment!

Yes, there are selkies :) I can’t wait to share this story with everyone!! The hardest part right now is not having the ability to let anyone read it!

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Madeline J. Rose

YAY for switching gears! Especially if you feel the Lord calling you in a different direction! I’m really excited for you about this new project!! THAT PINTEREST BOARD IS SO GORGEOUS. *heart eyes*

Also, “Lord, Am I the Idiot?” is a book I never knew I needed. XD

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jenelle

I still feel a little like I got whiplash from changing directions so abruptly, but I’m still loving this whole experience, so that’s good! Thank you for your enthusiasm!

Hehehe, same here!

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