Soul of the Sun Project Update

Soul of the Sun Project Update

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was starting a new project. Logically, it follows that I’m also wrapping up a current project to make way for the new one.

It’s been over a year since I discussed my Celestial Serenade space opera in detail. Time has flown so quickly since I resumed working on it! It’s hard to believe I’ve been neck-deep in edits for almost two years.

Back in November, I started the final trilogy. I used the first book as my NaNoWriMo project to keep me focused and motivated for the first new draft I had written in a while. I expected to be finished with the entire trilogy by the end of February. But it actually took me half of March to polish it off.

A few days ago, my husband and I went out for dinner. We’re having that kind of week that happens before you set off on a trip and we needed an excuse not to cook. When the waiter asked what our plans were for the day, my husband noted that March break was coming. He had just gotten his contract renewed for another year at his school – a major milestone. And I realized I was one scene away from finishing a project that has been a major part of my life for 10 years.

It’s the first time I can remember both of us celebrating a major milestone in our careers at the same time. And it made that moment feel precious.

I never imagined how long writing this series would take.

I’ve spoken about the process that brought the Celestial Serenade to life. But I never mentioned numbers. I started penning notes for this space opera in 2008. It was right after I started my first real IT job, and it took most of a year to prepare all my notes.

I chipped away at the first two books in the series, but I was still only halfway through book 2 when I left that job in 2013. This was when I made the decision to write full-time. We had the budget and it fit where our lives were headed. I managed to finish writing the second book in 3 months and then spent 6 months editing the first book.

But I didn’t feel good enough to make the story what I really wanted it to be. And though I had decided to pursue self-publishing, I didn’t want to release anything before it was ready. I put the project on a shelf and pulled out an old one.

2 years later, while we were in England, I started making plans for how I would update and change the Celestial Serenade. That was when I got the idea for the third installment in the series – Soul of the Sun. It came to me one morning while I was cleaning our flat.

Still, I had no idea in 2017, when I brushed the dust off the series, it was going to take me almost two years to complete it.

Finishing is a really big deal.

One of the weirdest things about writing is that writers never seem to celebrate their accomplishments. You finish something, and you feel this rush of relief and excitement. You made a thing. It finally exists.

But chances are, it will be months before anyone else reads that thing. Even if you’ve got eager beta readers, you usually need to edit the manuscript at least once before you let them see it.

So you put the draft on a shelf and move on to the next thing. Months later, you’re ready to share it, so people get excited. They ask if you’re celebrating. But you aren’t, because you’re so far removed from that moment. Releases can feel the same way if you’re not careful.

So I’ve learned to linger in these moments of accomplishment. To embrace them for what they are. I finished a thing. This is actually a big deal. Lots of people start books but never finished them. And I didn’t just finish one, I finished three.

This story spent 10 years sloshing around inside my head, waiting for the moment it could finally escape. And now it exists in a tangible form. It’s a train wreck. It needs tons of work. But it’s finally real.

This project took on a life of its own.

Writing Soul of the Sun has been an interesting experience. There’s a massive time jump between the end of Song of the Spheres and the beginning of this story. Filling in the blanks was fun, but resulted in a lot more world updating than I anticipated. This means I had to rehash a lot of old details to make comparisons, and I’m pretty sure it swelled my word counts in unexpected ways. Usually sequels are shorter because the setting is familiar, but I had basically made my world new again.

On the plus side, it was fun and exciting to see how things had changed during the absent span of time. The world wasn’t just new, it was fresh. I got to discover it all again for the first time, but without the awkward period of having to figure out the basics of what I was working with.

Soul of the Sun also comes with an entirely new cast, which meant a lot of fumbling in the early chapters to get a hold of all the new personalities. But I expected that.

What I didn’t expect was that the plot would grow well beyond my original outline. The first book was about 70,000 words; what I expected for each installment. But the second quickly grew to 90,000 and the last was almost 100,000 all on its own. With pieces of the plot still missing!

Part of me is in a tailspin trying to figure out what to do with this monster. I know it needs a ton more work, and that there’s probably a fair amount of rambling to cut. But I worry how big it will be when I finally wrangle the missing pieces of plot into place.

It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever written.

As always happens when I finish a project, I’m wrestling with a myriad of negative thoughts. Were any of these books worth the effort? Will people care about how the setting has advanced if some of their favorite characters are no longer present? Will I ever be popular enough for people to see the time and effort I’ve put into the creation of this story?

But at the moment, I’m trying to focus on how ‘good’ it feels to finally have some form of this story out of me. It’s like a breath of fresh air and a weight lifted from my shoulders.

I’m focusing on the fact that I cried five times while writing this story. And that it includes some of the most gut wrenching and beautiful character interactions I’ve ever constructed. I’m focusing on the fact that it feels right, feels like the perfect conclusion to the journey I started back in 2008.

Even if no one else reads this story, or cares about it, I love it. I love how it turned out. I love what it does. And it exceeded even my wildest expectations. Its themes are bittersweet, but I have a fondness for the bittersweet. It wriggles into our hearts and changes the way we look at the world.

This project is far from finished. But I feel like I’ve jumped the last major hurdle. I’ve crossed enough slick stones to see the far side of the river. I’m excited about the future of the Celestial Serenade, thrilled with the idea that I might soon get to share pieces of it. If nothing else, the journey has been worth every moment.

And for once, I’m planning to take some time to bask in that achievement before moving on to the next thing.

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