By Susan A.J. Lyttek
Recently, I found myself doing the impossible.
Okay, let me back up. Many years ago, I planned a six-book series. Stories one and two were finished and with the possibility of a contract, I started book three. It wasn’t intended to be a long book—about 30-35,000 words. I got to about 20,000. The contract fell through. The brakes screeched.
Over the years, each time it looked as if I might get a nibble on the series, I would open that third book and try to finish it. It was even part of my NaNoWriMo effort one year!
When finally, after nearly twenty years of marketing the series, I signed a contract, I pulled book three out, now at 23,000, yet again. Surely now I had enough motivation to crank out the remainder of the story? I could finish it and start on book four.
I had multiple problems with the draft. For one, for such a short book, I already had a dozen points of view. Part of that problem was that events related to the plot were happening all over the fantasy world. I had different characters as the story tellers related to their location. I knew it wouldn’t work long term. That knowledge increased my doubt about the story itself, even though it was a critical linchpin of the overarching series plot. Week after week I would add a measly 300 to 500 words, painfully, as if each syllable was pulled from some grim recess.
Then the pandemic hit. I figured the extra time would make writing easier… and it did. Just not on this book. I was fairly resigned that I would have to renege on the contract. Which was totally a shame since I loved my characters and the world they lived in!
I kept praying for a breakthrough and asking others to pray. It didn’t seem like those prayers were going anywhere. In fact, it felt like they were bouncing back from the clouds.
Then I received an email with the galleys for the first book in the series and a question about when the third book would be submitted. Aren’t you a bit late? I confessed to my editor the problems I was having with the points of view and personal motivation. Perhaps you can wrap it up and send it to me for preliminary edits before submitting it officially? In a week?
I gulped and agreed to try.
This would be while reviewing book one’s galley and book two’s first edits. The intense workload felt both intimidating and encouraging. I asked for prayer again from all my core groups, cleared my schedule of as much as I could and begged tutoring to see if they could reschedule some students.
First, I reviewed the galleys. Reading the first book through reminded me why I wrote it in the first place. Timelines, plots and characters sprang off the page and back into my heart. Slowly, I found myself writing chapters. Using Paint, I started drawing the map so I could keep track of the action. Then two days in, I had clarity. I could narrow the focus down to four points of view and cover all the essential plot points. It was still a lot for one book, but it made it doable.
I spent that day deleting. All told, I took out over 3000 words before I had things moved around and reorganized enough for a path forward.
Then, in two and a half days, in between tutoring and household chores, I wrote fresh. Over 9000 words in that time, finishing the draft that couldn’t be finished. Finishing the impossible.
It was definitely through prayer. Sometimes, I couldn’t believe how fast my fingers were flying over the keys and the words poured out.
Is it a story the world needs? I have no idea. It was, though, one I needed. And God loved me enough to guide me through it.
Maybe there’s a book or story or project that you have put to the side. You know it’s part of you. Ask for help. Ask for prayer. Because with our God, nothing good is impossible.The book was impossible to write. I’d have to renege on my contract. Wouldn’t I? @SusanLyttek #ACFWBlogs #writetips #ChristianFiction #ACFWCommunity Click To Tweet
Susan A. J. Lyttek, author of five novels, award-winning writer, blogger, wife and mother to two homeschool graduates has temporarily given up job-hunting and instead spends her days tutoring over Zoom and writing the strangest tales she can. Learn more at www.sajlyttek.com