Stephanie Burgis
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One more reason I'm grateful for Patrick
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So, with only 5 chapters left to revise in Kat by Starlight, I ran into a big stumbling-block on Tuesday: a magical plot-point that had been worrying me for a long time, but that I'd never stopped to figure out. (Why? Well, because that would have been hard, of course! Much easier to just not think about least until I got to this point in the novel, where I cannot keep going until it's fixed!)

There was gnashing of teeth. There was hair-pulling and nail-biting, as I felt like my brain might explode from sheer frustration. There was whining and there was sorrow. And then there were hours and hours, spread across the last few days, of talking through the problem with Patrick, brainstorming possibilities from all angles. We have different strengths as writers, and luckily, those strengths complement each other very well. One of the things that Patrick is really, really good at is working out magical systems and worldbuilding. And after many, many hours of talking through my magical problem with him, drawing maps of the setting where the magic takes place (can I just say how much I hate drawing maps? but sadly, it was necessary), and figuring out answers to his cruelly specific and pointed questions about my magical system...after all of that, I think (knock on wood!) my problem may have Actually Been Solved.


If I weren't married to Patrick, I would of course still be writing, I would still come up with all of my ideas, and I can only hope that I would eventually still figure out good solutions to my plot/magical dilemmas. But it would take an awful lot longer, and I wouldn't have the genuine joy (even in my most despairing, brain-exploding moments) of getting to brainstorm my novels with such intensity, and at such length, with a writer whose ideas I love and respect so much, and who has such a personal investment in me and my career. And I am so, so grateful to have that!

So that's what I've been doing for much of this week. It hasn't resulted in many pages of revision yet - I'm guessing it'll be another week before this draft of the novel is done - but it's been enormously helpful.

I've also been reading, both for the Norton Awards and just for myself. For anyone who's wondered whether to buy Robin McKinley's new book, Chalice - DO IT! I absolutely adored it. Not only was it one of the best YA fantasy novels I've read this year, it was one of the best fantasy novels of the year, period, and one of my very favorites out of all of her novels so far (which is saying a lot!). It is beautifully written, utterly absorbing, and ohhh, how I loved the magic in it and also the perfectly understated romance. (And on a completely personal, subjective level, as both the daughter and sister-in-law of beekeepers, I absolutely LOVED the bees in her novel, and the way they worked into the magic. So much fun!) I started it at 8pm one night and stayed up WAY too late, despite 3rd-trimester exhaustion, because I could not go to sleep until I'd finished the book! I'm already looking forward to re-reading it many times.

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