Every author has a project they cannot get out of their head, that they keep returning back to over the years, and feel a special sort of drive to finish. Sometimes there is a magnetic sort of inspiration driving your fingers to speed across your keyboard, word processor unable to keep up with your muse (or maybe that is just my slow netbook). Sometimes there is a drought, a dustbowl, a great depression, and nothing comes out but frustration.
I definitely know the feeling.
Mikara Falling was a book I started in the Fall of 2004, while I was too bored to concentrate on balancing chemical equations and the safety hazards of white phosphorus. It started with a few sheets of lined paper and a pen that was dodgy with its ink expenditure.
Originally, it was called “Knights of Mikara” and centered around the knighthood based on the mostly water planet of Mikara. There were four orders of the knighthood, and none of them got along too well, nor did the three races of Mikara. At that point, I had no idea what it was going to be about.
I started writing about the leaders of each order, how they interacted with each other, etc, and suddenly a religion, known only as the Church, appeared.
Almost immediately I scrapped that first draft and started a new one.
The next draft started with storms raging across Mikara, worrisome, frightening, and the leaders of the orders of the knighthood had to investigate them, and find out what was wrong. Boring, but a start, I suppose. I introduced a man who was Mirra, a race no longer on Mikara, and suddenly I was discovering long abandoned technology on the jungle islands of Mikara, as well as an ancient evil which was hunting down the last Mirra.
I scrapped that draft before finishing it, too.
The same happened with the next one, though more and more was emerging each time. I was getting further into the story each time.
The fourth draft was where the story soared, literally. It was peppered with the old metal cities of the Mirra, now floating on the dark waters of Mikara thought they once soared the skies. There were dark, foreboding island forests, ancient cathedrals, and the lone Mirra was part of the mysterious Church. Slowly, everything was taking shape.
After one major revision on that draft, I decided it was time to submit it to a publishing company or two.
First I sent Mikara Falling to DAW Books. They are still family owned, though they are part of Penguin now, and encourage non-agented authors to submit. They also gladly publish new authors every year. I was excited. One month after submitting to them, I received a long letter back detailing that the economy was bad, it was hard to break out a new author, and that my writing was good, but needed a little work, so try try again.
Next, I sent it to Tor. Tor has changed hands a few times in the recent past. They are a bigger company, and really do love those agented authors, though they do accept authors without agents. They do not publish as many premier authors, either.
Despite that, I had my hopes up, until four months later when I received a four line letter, unsigned, stating that they did not want my piece, nor would they respond personally, bye.
It was disheartening, I will admit.
At that point, I put Mikara Falling down. It was already spring of 2009. I was starting to do more and more screenwriting, looking more to cinema for my inspiration and canvas than the novel.
Sometime, when talking about National Novel Writing Month (put on every November by the amazing Office of Letters and Light; and I don’t just say that because I am a Script Frenzy ML) in early 2010, Mikara Falling came up. I had not really thought about the project at all since I received that letter back from Tor Forge Books. I had stopped drawing artwork about the book, stopped talking about the book, stopped listening to the music I associated with writing the book itself.
For all intensive purposes, Mikara Falling was dead to me.
And yet, when I started talking about it, I felt a clenching in my heart, a tightening of my throat, and I knew, then and there, that I was still in love with the world of Mikara, the story of Mikara Falling, the characters, everything about it. This was a story that I needed to tell.
That was when I picked my proverbial pen back up and started writing again. That was in late May, early June, of 2010, just a few short months ago.
When I fly through the clouds with Bierrez and his fellow knights, I find myself smiling with delight. When I return to the cathedral of Mit’riku, I am filled with awe and wonder. And that is what I want the reader to feel as well.
I am not just writing a book about a place that has events and people. I am bringing the reader on a breathtaking adventure through a tale of duty, honor, sacrifice, and what happens when none of those are fulfilled.
Today, I broke the 50,000 word mark. The last draft was 107,000 words, approximately, but I have done a ton of work on my sentence structures, on flow and mood and tone, and weeded out the scenes that do not matter versus the ones which propel the storyline forward.
Hopefully, I will have this fifth draft of Mikara Falling polished and in a box, on its way to New York City to visit the slush pile readers at DAW Books again. And, hopefully, they will fall in love with Mikara just as I have all over again.
~Tiffany “Kysis” Tackett