It’s that time of year again.
Every autumn, it seems, I’m drawn back into the world of Nameless. Perhaps it’s just my natural rhythm; I work on it for a month or two and then I need a whole year to feel ready to approach it again.
Recently I received a lovely comment from a reader letting me know they’re still here, still waiting, still supportive of however long it will take me to finish. I’ve had several such comments or emails throughout the years, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see evidence of your support. The comment made me realize I haven’t specifically spoken about Nameless in almost a year, so I figured it was time for an update.
I have 50,000 words written on draft number… gosh I don’t even know anymore. There have been three eras of Nameless: The Fictionpress version, the conversion to a single YA book with my agent, and now, the era I call Apprentice version. It’s Adult, and treats the career of the Poetess in a different way; she’s a spokesperson instead of an artist, and she is not appointed so much as falls into the position accidentally. It means she is new to her role (an apprentice, if you will), and must learn the truth about the position of Poetess, which is far darker and nuanced than public perception. The Apprentice draft alternates point of view; first for the Poetess, and third for Number Twenty-Three. It combines the original three books on Fictionpress into a slightly different, one-book story.
This 50,000 words takes us through the plot of the story that was originally found in the earlier parts of Book 2 on Fictionpress. That means there are still roughly 50,000 words left for me to write, but hopefully fewer. Let me be clear, it is not the number of words holding me back from finishing this newest iteration. It’s the plot.
I’m in the
impossible unusual and difficult position of trying to rewrite my first book to make it into something marketable. It’s commonly reported in the industry that the first book of a writer usually doesn’t sell, and with good reason. The first book is like the first flight of a baby bird; it’s something that resembles the final product, but you’ll still probably find yourself flat on your face. First books teach you what not to do in subsequent books. They’re a first try, a warm up to something better.
But my first book is… unusual. It captured hearts and imaginations. I am blessed to have discovered such a compelling story, and cursed that I was too young to do it justice. I may be too young, yet.
I usually take pride in being fearless. I also believe failure can be good for us. But when it comes to Nameless I am terribly afraid of failure. You have been so kind to me throughout the years, but in a way your kindness only increases my burden. My first book was not a good book, in a technical sense. If I want to sell it, I have to keep its essence but discard what isn’t working. For some first books that can mean the whole thing. I’m lucky that I have working parts, but in general those of you still following me from the Fictionpress days remember a draft that no longer exists.
Some characters have gone away, and others have been added. Some plot lines have vanished, and new ones introduced. My writing capabilities have matured, but so have your reading tastes. I’m worried that when I finally deliver this book to you, it won’t be what you pictured in your head, and you’ll be disappointed
It is your disappointment I fear most of all.
So here is what I’d like do to, for both of us, to mediate your expectations and hopefully make it a little less scary for me to write: I want to tell you about Apprentice version.
In Apprentice version, you will still find the main characters you know and love. Of this I am certain. The Poetess and Number 23 are even more themselves now; two very complicated people struggling with powerful feelings in a rigid world. The tantalizing story of two people falling in forbidden love is still there, and I think I’ve done quite alright by it. The Poetess as you last saw her was an artist-in-residence of sorts; in this version she is the face of and spokesperson for the government, though what her position is perceived as being by the public is very different from what it is in reality.
You will find more intrigue. You might remember this as a quiet book, and it is, in a way. When you have two characters growing slowly towards each other you have to have quiet, but the plot is quicker. There’s more drama, and more political intrigue. We meet the Rebellion much sooner, and it’s a complicated movement like all movements, with some idealists and some extremists. My characters get tied up with it in new and interesting ways.
The main characters do part physically, but not for the original reason. We do visit the setting of the original third book, but we don’t spend a lot of time there. Basically the plot of the original third book is completely discarded. However, in this version we do make it to the never-before-seen West Hall. Technically, as that part is still unwritten, even I haven’t seen it yet, lol.
Some characters who were lovers are now siblings, and the characters of Carowyn, Laina, and Gapoleon have disappeared entirely (alas, poor Carowyn! I’ll find another book for you.) I won’t say much about the new characters, except that they were carefully chosen to help propel and intensify the story, and therefore I think you’ll like them.
Also, no one has AIDS.
(Forgive me my anachronisms, O gods of writing! And also my love triangles.)
[Oh God I just remembered in the first version I made Number 23 go into a coma because AIDS in order to keep him out of the way for half a book. Why do you guys even like me?]
If all that sounds fine by you (especially the AIDS part), then I’ll breathe a sigh of relief. I guess I just want to reassure you, after so long, that I still love this story and am taking care of it as best I can. I’m not going to give it to you until I think it’s ready, which I guess can be seen as comforting or infuriating. But I promise it will be finished one day.