Reflections on finishing the Inheritance Trilogy

::whew:: I have now finished the first draft of The Kingdom of Gods. Deep breath taken; celebratory drink with friends accomplished; happy tears shed. There will be more revisions, of course — lots more; “writing is revising”, as they say. Having done this process twice now, here’s how it usually goes:

-0th draft
-First draft
-Writing group/beta reader critique
-Second draft
-Submit to editor
-Third draft (using edit notes)
-If there are more edit notes/changes suggested, might be a fourth draft (this happened for books 1 and 2)
-Copyedit; I then review and accept/reject changes
-First pass pages (these are the typeset pages — what it will actually look like when it’s printed); I review for errors
-Advanced Reader Copy; I review again for errors
-Print!

Because I’m currently waiting for my readers to finish their crit, I’ve now got 2 weeks to myself to breathe a bit, focus on life-stuff (like job hunting!), and contemplate my next step. But me being a counselor-type, I’m inclined to take a brief pause to reflect on where I’ve been before I look at where I’m going next.

This is my first time finishing a trilogy. I’ve written several novels before The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, including an epic fantasy duology, but this is the first time I’ve done three. It’s also the first time I’ve written nothing but novels back-to-back with no breaks. And I did it at a pace that once I would’ve found impossible — 2 novels in roughly 18 months. By comparison, it took me about 2.5 years all total to write, then rewrite, 100K. And, at least in its raw form, KingGod (you know I’m all about the abbreviations, ya’ll) is about half again as long as the first book — 160K, versus 112K — though I’m planning to trim it down.

I should feel a sense of accomplishment, but oddly enough, I don’t. Partly it’s that I’m just too stressed and tired from dealing with other things; the ol’ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs problem. But partly I think it’s that I won’t feel done until all three books are published. Having been through this now with 100K, I think publication — and seeing readers’ reactions — has become part of the creative process for me. I’ve met other authors who won’t look at their own reviews, but I don’t have that kind of self control. After pouring so much of my energy into producing a book, I need to see what readers think. It’s cathartic, somehow. And yeah, sometimes it’s hard. There have been a few reviews of 100K that left bruises, and a couple that made me wonder if the reader had actually read the same book I’d written. But even those were useful, in their own way. They gave me… hmm. Perspective. Closure.

100K seems to be doing well, if you’re wondering. BookScan reads like stereo instructions to me, and I’m aware that it doesn’t fully capture sales, but thus far my numbers don’t suck. (Thanks to all of you who’ve helped to make that so!) It’s too soon to tell whether the book is a success or not — and as a newbie in this business I’m not even sure what success means. Earning out my advance would obviously be a good thing. Going into a second printing, ditto, and hitting the bestseller lists even more so. But only time will tell if any of that happens.

The Broken Kingdoms is available for preorder at Amazon, B&N, and Borders, BTW. Gotta start looking ahead now.

So what’s next on the menu writing-wise? A few things, actually.
-I want to write some short stories. In fact, I’ve been itching to write some, because I haven’t done it in over a year now. Had some ideas on simmer for awhile, so now I finally get to turn them up to full boil.
-I’m going to revise that duology I mentioned above. Since revising 100K worked out so well for me, and I think those books are equally good.
-I’ve had my mind on a YA cyberpunkish story for awhile now, and I finally feel like I’ve read enough YA to get a handle on its current forms and customs (as opposed to the YA of my own youth, which was very different). I’ve never written YA before, but I’m heartened by the fact that a number of people seem to feel 100K has a YAish feel; that means I won’t need to change my natural style too much. I’d hoped to take a couple of programming classes by this point, since I figure that would help me with the technical stuff, but I haven’t had the time or money, so I’m going to have to wing it. Fortunately, I know enough geeks who’ll call me on it if I go too far off the rails. (Speaking of which, been meaning to check out Ruby on Rails.) It’s primarily going to be a story about identity and oppression, though; people, not technology. I think that both the best YA and the best cyberpunk have focused on that. Or maybe that’s just my preference; either way, it’s the direction I want to go.
-No more cons or readings for awhile; I need a break. I’ll be going to Readercon in July, but that’s it.

Also, a vacation. (Though that’ll have to wait ’til I get a job again.)

So. What’s up with you guys?

8 Responses »

  1. HURRAY!!!

    See you at Readercon!

  2. Hi, Nora~~~ I just read the first three sample chapters of 100K (lol, cute–I like using odd abbreviations for titles too. Though I think I picked that up from anime fandom?), and I am UTTERLY ITCHING to rush out of work right now and buy the book!! Very clever, cutting off at that point (though I would’ve been pretty frantic to rush to the bookstore at the end of chatper 2 too–but I love that we got to meet the playful trickster god and Naha as his not-freakishly-scary self). The imagery you evoked of Sky and the way Naha’s hair and/or cloak wafted around him in Sieh’s “playroom” was so vivid… Which is amazing, if you consider how straightforward and spare Yeine’s narrative voice is. Just the right words in just the right amount… I’m really impressed.

    Lol, and all this just based on the first three chapters, huh? Can’t wait to read the whole thing. ^^

    Ah, and congrats on finishing the trilogy, btw! I hope in a few years, I can be where you are, wrapping up this fantasy trilogy that’s been on my mind for, what, SIX years? =__= Lol, in any case, congratulations and thanks for brightening up my afternoon with those sample chapters!!

  3. Hey, congratulations! I’m looking forward to having the whole trilogy on my shelves.

    Ruby on Rails is awesome and if you want to learn it in a low-pressure, supportive environment, the Archive of Our Own is always looking for volunteers.

  4. I know you are tired and still have a ways to go with Kingdom of Gods, but I think you have accomplished a LOT! Congrats to you for finishing your trilogy. I am looking forward to the rest of this trilogy, but very curious to see what you come up with in your cyberpunkish story and the short stories.

    Congrats to you, and heres to that long deserved vacation. :)

  5. Oh, happy day. Congratulations on a huge accomplishment — and I think I understand the feeling of, well, not exactly feeling it. The gap between “finished” and “published” is long. I just pre-ordered it (amazon.co.uk by the way), and I can’t wait (although I’ll just have to, until November).

    Well, it gives me time to read 100K again, assuming Scalzi slows down a bit on the Big Idea, which has provided most of my reading material this year, including the growing stack of to-reads. Yours and Justine Larbalestier’s were easily my favourites.

  6. N.K. Jemisin,

    I greatly enjoyed 100K. I am an avid Fantasy section reader. I look forward to more from you. Your style is addictive. I agree, your books should not be in the A-A section. I saw it in the Fantasy, new, section. I would not have found it otherwise. I was always guessing, always pushing on through the next page, very interesting style. I will be buying the whole trilogy. Thank you for bringing new life and perspective to the Fantasy world. You definitely have a great gift.

  7. I really, really like this book. I’m a newbie Fantasy reader (have always read sci fi, but for some reason lost in the mists of time, thought most fantasy was really a romantic thing.) I’m glad I learned differently a couple of years ago, and am very glad I got this book.

    Read it in one day, couldn’t put it down. And then I had to pre-order book 2. Congrats on a wonderful, enticing first book. I hope to read your books for many years to come.

  8. Congrats on finishing first draft!! 100K is my favorite book I have read this year, that I have read in the past couple of years for that matter, so I can’t wait to read more. Meeting you at RT was the highlight of the conference for me. Your writing has that “storyteller voice” that I look for, that grabbed me from the first page, that painted pictures in my mind of a city no one has ever seen, that immersed me in a living mythology of gods, that blew my mind with the lyrical ending that hit just the right note. I eagerly await Broken Kingdoms. Enjoy!!