Writing isn't easy. If we talk about craft alone, then there are the usual frustrations. Plot-holes, weak characterization, melodramatic voice, stilted dialogue.
It isn't easy.
I sometimes wish I was young again, staying up late to read and write fanfiction. I didn't get a lot of readers on my one-shots, but I churned out more and more and wrote AUs and enemies-to-lovers and roommates/soulmates and self-insert and...and...
Of course...I also wrote my own fiction. Eva being the first character I can remember as authentically my own. I can still picture her. Bobbed hair, green dress, perpetually skinned knees from kickball in the sandlot next to the orphanage. She was fierce, protective, brash. I didn't have those words to describe her, being about six years old after all, but that's who I'd wanted her to be. When the inspiration for Eva's story pattered out, it was Sandris next, a dust-covered girl living in a fictional desert. Then after Sandris it was Giseline, and Kara, and back to fanfiction, and then--finally--Alpha. Laurie, James, Carmen, Donovan, Edelina, and Phin. These characters who I now shower with my own fierce, brash protection. (Thank you, Eva, for teaching me how.)
And then I took a break from them when my life fell apart in 2017. I turned to such self-indulgent writing that, ultimately, I know is worth more than a brief stint in publishing.
Eat Stars and Marry the Moon.
Arguably, this manuscript saved my life...and it's okay if literary agents or publishers don't care about that.
Eat Stars and Marry the Moon. As a title, I wanted both so much and so little for this novel. I wanted to grapple with my fears and escape reality. I stuffed the book with cynicism and satire, but then backtracked and wrote so honestly it had hurt. Sometimes, I wrote because I just wanted to feel safe. Other times, I wrote because I thought about being published.
It's whimsy. It's brusk. It's self-indulgent in a way worse than fanfiction. Do I believe there's potential for this novel? Yes. I can see the skeleton of a great story--or, okay, a fun story at the least. I know who is my most compelling character, and who, out of the ensemble cast, needs to be cut.
But because this is a book that saved me, I wonder if I want to do that. If I want to change my lifeline. I wonder if I want to put in that compromise just to make it a publishable novel that will maybe one day garner a few sales. I think back to my youngest days writing, to the binder with falling out pages that I'd swapped with my friends between science and history. The Green Book--this binder--had been about fairies and magic, and was arguably as childlike in its wish-fulfilment as Eat Stars and Marry The Moon.
And we all know wish-fulfillment isn't how a novel gets published.
But it's okay, because both The Green Book and Marry the Moon had been so pivotal in my own becoming.
A common piece of advice for writers is that it's okay to write crap--allow yourself to write crap, even. I just hope you know that you can still find value in that crappy writing. That you didn't need to pen an award winning novel for it to have been important. That it can be self-indulgent, and cringy, and all sorts of sentimental.
Eat Stars and Marry the Moon. As a title, I wanted so much for this novel. Maybe, in my head, this most recent draft and revision cycle will always be the real final version. Sentimental, hokey, self-indulgent in all the worst, most wonderful ways.
Maybe, in my head, what it turns into next--if it turns into anything new--is a different book for a different goal. I know why I'd written it and who it'd originally been for. But now...
Now, it's time to work.