The sweet memory of magic
In 2004, I wrote a YA trilogy over the course of six weeks. The trilogy retold a story I’d begun as a vampire-obsessed high school freshman.
I ignored the trilogy for a long time and for many reasons. I’m not a writer, I told myself. I just wrote some stuff because I was bored and broke in the middle of nowhere.
When my mom died in 2010, I remembered all the times she’d encouraged me to write professionally and hated myself for waving her off every single time. I started editing the first book in my trilogy not because I suddenly saw myself as a writer, but because it was important to me to do this one thing in my mom’s memory.
I edited the book as I edit my contracts, parsing the story down to its barest essence instead of letting it breathe as fully as it needed to. 78,000 words became 52,000 words, and those 52,000 words were released as The Monster’s Daughter.
Over the last eighteen months, I’ve tried dozens of strategies to force myself to edit its sequel. I’d written a trilogy, by damn, and I needed to publish a trilogy.
I told myself it was OK to pause editing the second book if I wrote a new, unrelated book. I wrote the new book and still balked at returning to the second book of my trilogy.
I released a non-fiction ebook while beginning work on another non-fiction project. A few weeks ago, I set aside the non-fiction book in progress to work on a new fiction project. Anything to avoid returning to my trilogy!
The deeper I delve into my new project, the harder it becomes to imagine returning to my trilogy. It’s not that I don’t love the trilogy or its protagonist, Ginny, who made otherwise excruciating loneliness tolerable. I do love the trilogy, and I love Ginny, most especially when I am lonely or aching.
I love the trilogy the way I love Edward Scissorhands, The Bridge to Terabithia or The Escape Club’s “I’ll Be There.” Once, these things were my everything. They occupied my mind, my heart and even my aspirations, both for what they were and for the layers of meaning I added to them. When things are deeply beloved, it’s hard to look at the past they belong to head-on and embrace that it’s the past. The moment is gone, the moment’s magic transformed to the sweet memory of magic.
As I wrote to my friend El, to whom I first confessed I was thinking of letting The Monsters’s Daughter stand alone:
I think I was afraid of letting [Ginny] go, but it’s impossible to let her go; she lives in me, now and forever.
Watching the words pour out of me for this new project just makes it so clear that I need to follow whatever voice is singing to me right now . . . not try to catch a tune playing miles away, now.
Ginny and The Monster’s Daughter were once my everything. Today I set them free, with a sigh and a butterfly kiss, as I turn my ears toward the music that plays for me now.