(Yes that is a wishbone for a handle, with the words wish at the bottom of the mug. Found on sale while shopping recently, and it screamed buy me! As a huge fan of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, how could I not?)
Once upon a time I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone when it first came out and I was swept away into the story. It wasn’t just the story being told, but how it was being told. Laini Taylor has a way with words, that feel like magic. Like every word creates an enchantment and builds her story so organically. It never feels rushed, it never feels drawn out; the pacing is spot on. And the world building. I could live in her world. Needless to say I was captivated.
Later that winter, I was going to a Bell Canto Christmas choir to see a friend sing. It was a seasonal tradition while he performed with them. The concert was held in a church and there is this magnificent organ with pipes that decorates the room. Decorate isn’t the right word. It sits their majestically and I want nothing more than to hear someone play on it. I always imagine that it would be a transcendent experience, despite the fact that I have never listened to organ music before.
On the way home the air was cold, the type that bites your nose hairs. There was snow on the ground, and the night was dark, and the stars bright.
The entire evening had this magical feel to it. The music. The holiday spirit. Even the cold winter outside with the glittering snow, and chilly nipping air. It was a feeling sitting in the air that night, and that feeling is what I wanted to capture. That essence.
That’s when the idea for Paris Above was born. A girl who could float on air, who saved a boy, who was an Organ player, set in Paris, and the Notre Dame Cathedral, during the holiday season.
I then spent a considerable amount of time trying to write it. Several NaNoWriMo’s I went in with the intention of finishing it. I never did. The story was too big for me at the time. I didn’t know the direction I was taking. I flirted with a lot of what if ideas. I did a lot of research on Paris and places and things I wanted to include. I had characters. I had backstory. I had scenes written. It wasn’t working. It flat out was not at all what I wanted. In my imagination, it had depths and layers, but on paper, it was just flat, one dimensional and tripe. It was a mockery. It mimicked. And worst of all, it held no magic.
But still I was in love with the idea. The only reasonable course of action was to realize that at this time I didn’t have the skill set needed to tell the story I wanted. So I set it aside.
I spent more time learning, by reading, by writing, by living. I learnt how to create an arch. I learnt character development. I learnt about world building. I learnt about different tenses and POV. I learnt about hard knocks and how to persevere. I learnt, and learnt, and learnt some more.
Writing this book has never been easy. But this time re-writing, I feel like I have hit the right notes. When I show up to the page, I’m happy with what is coming out of me and where the story is going. I have scenes planned ahead of time. I know the arch of the story I want to tell. I have changed POV from first person to third. I thought third would be hard, as it’s not my natural writing voice, but it works for this project. It works so very, very well.
Writing this book is still not easy, but I finally feel like I know myself better as a writer. I trust myself more. Metaphors are easier. World building is easier. Scenes with multiple people are easier. All the research and the characters and the false starts, and the meandering scenes that didn’t work, has helped shape the type of story I want to tell. I know how to boil it down, what to include, what to hint at. I can do a quick 5 minutes of research, and feel on track, rather than feeling like I am climbing down a rabbit whole and getting lost. It’s still a hot mess, because it’s still a first draft, but this first draft is better than any other first draft I have ever drafted.
I’m excited to get to the end of this. But I’m also excited to take my time doing it right.