So Sword and Star – the final book in the Root Code trilogy (by the way, it honestly continues to be somewhat frustrating to have a trilogy split between two different publishers) – has been out for a month now, and it’s kind of interesting to look back at its trajectory and its place in my head now.
Some of you might recall that this book wasn’t even supposed to happen. Neither it nor book two – Fall and Rising – was supposed to happen. Or at least for a long time the odds did not look good. F&R was already written when I had to start shopping it around to other publishers, but that’s a far cry from a book “happening” as far as I’m concerned, because an MS sitting on your hard drive is not on the same level as something that people can actually exchange for-real money for. I had one book in limbo, one book only existent in rough form in my head, and for a while I was pretty certain nothing would ever come of both unless I caved and self-published. Which, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t want to do.
Then they both happened, and that was frankly a little difficult to deal with, even with the relief and the excitement. Because I had become so sure I was never going back to that part of that universe. Then very suddenly I was tossed back in and immersed in it for months.
Now it’s all done. It’s over. I might return to that universe in another book, but it won’t be the same, and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever deal with these protagonists again (and my villain(s) won’t be dealt with either, because… Well, if you read the dang thing you’ll see).
Something that did happen after the immersion and the editing was over – which has happened to me more than once but which remains profoundly strange and will probably always remain so – is that my brain completely decoupled. Abruptly it was like the book wasn’t mine anymore. It felt like it had been written by someone else. I look back over it – which I frankly have not done for a bit (IT’S NOT THAT IT ISN’T GOOD, I THINK IT’S VERY GOOD) – and I can barely remember writing any of it. Talking about it feels like talking about something largely unconnected from me.
This also happened with my Casting the Bones trilogy. To be honest, I don’t even recall a lot of the second two books right now, like a language you haven’t spoken in years.
(THOSE BOOKS ARE ALSO VERY GOOD I THINK JUST SAYING)
Interestingly, I’ve noticed that this happens way less with my fanfiction. I still experience that odd disconnection, where it feels like someone else wrote it and I don’t remember a fair amount of the production process – though some parts of it I remember very vividly – but the story itself remains much fresher and more immediate in my mind (this remains especially true with my ginormous ridiculous Walking Dead AU magnum opus, I’ll Be Yours For a Song, which I am still not over). The decoupling process is not as complete. Since returning to writing fanfiction, it’s been fascinating to contrast my very different writerly relationship with it versus my “original” stuff (I dislike the fanfiction/original dichotomy just about as much as I dislike the virtual/real one, and for similar reasons). Again, I think it has nothing to do with quality. It’s about how the work is produced and what parts of Writer Brain are engaged.
I guess what I’m saying here – among other half-coherent things – is that there is a particular feeling of Overness that I seem to experience with the final endings of books that I don’t experience with anything else. In a way it’s uncomfortable, because I feel like I should feel more of a deep connection to something I wrote. But on the other hand I think it makes sense. Working on a book is draining; working on a series is even more so. I think that on a very deep level, my Writer Brain needed to be well and truly done with that story. It couldn’t leave the universe in half-measures. It had to let go completely.
Which I guess is healthy? I hope so, anyway.
Regardless, now I need to figure out what’s next.