Musing About Finishing the Books Whose First Drafts Date Back Years Ago

With the release of Natural Sorcery, I have now officially published all of the long-form stories whose first drafts date, at least partially, from my undergraduate/early graduate lifetime or earlier. This is a huge relief.

It can be hard to realize how your writing changes and evolves until you go back to something that you’d written years before, and then suddenly you can see all the differences. And I’m still going to have the same problem with respect to drafts that I’ve started during my late graduate phase–which will inevitably have to wait their turn for publication until I complete at least one of the series I’m working on right now–but at least then I’ll be working with drafts that came from a time when I was a better writer.

And it’s not just the writing style on its own that makes me relieved to be working with things I wrote when I was older. The ideas I have for how I want to move these stories forward have changed. Terrestrial Magic as a series is always going to have its wild, chaotic world-building that can never be tamed. That’s what I’d seeded into the story when I started writing it forever ago. And I’ve accepted that in order to write that series–which I still think is very much worth writing, despite how hard I made the world-building and plotting on myself–I have to just let go and have fun with it.

But it’ll be nice to start some writing projects with world-building and plots and themes that’ll feel a little bit more like I can control them.

Unless, of course, I move on to my next projects and realize that much of this is wishful thinking. Because for all I know, my writing will always feel at least a bit like it’s gotten away from me.

One of the things I’ve had to accept, in order to start publishing, is that it’s next to impossible to have the perfect book. Projects are always going to be flawed and are probably never going to feel like exactly like what I intended. But finishing them and putting them out in the world still has value. Especially if these books find the readers that connect with them.

So really, I always have to be aware of that line between when the book really isn’t ready yet, and when it’s as ready as it’s going to be. But until then, I’m going to let myself dream just a little bit that maybe the perfect project does exist. Even if I know it doesn’t.