A Writer’s Reflection

post by: Ava Reiss

Anyone who’s sat down to write know there are a multitudes of difficulties. Writer’s block. Can’t find the right words. Finding time to write. Loving your stuff one day and hating it the next. I always feel bonded to other writers in solidarity over these things.

I had started writing my Cycles of the Lights series in June, 2014. Flashes of inspiration had been hitting me for quite some time. Notably, there was a short story I had wanted to write. It was about a handful of people who astral projected to another planet when they slept. This was based on a dream I had. One where I found myself “on a planet a little more than halfway from Earth to Proxima Centauri.” There was a tour guide walking us around in an atmosphere like dusk. The vibe was warm and earthy. The homes were built into the mountain side and were smooth, almost like blue ice. I referred to them as “blue pueblos.” Though they were carved into the mountain.

I later discovered Chefchaouen existed, but that’s a different story.

The dream was incredibly lucid. I honestly felt as if I were there. While there, people knew about Earth. Yet knowledge that life existed on other planets was as plain as day and no one talked about it. There were casual mentions of “Oh, poor Earth. They’re so self-secluding.”

It inspired the idea for the short story. I had started it at one point. A woman who astral projects ends up in a car accident and a coma. She lives out the rest of her life blissfully in her other form on a far away planet.

Yet, when I sat down to really rework the tale, I changed the dreams to past life memories. In many ways, we live in our past experiences. They define who we are. Yet, when I see people with alzheimer’s—and feel sympathy—a part of me wonders what if when we’re born, we’re living a different sort of memory loss. What if past lives exist?

Thus the mechanic of astral projecting was changed to one of recollection of a past life. For the main characters—ones lived on distant planets.

Now onto why this was difficult.

Needless to say, it didn’t end up a short story. In a manic period of unemployment, I wrote 12 books. Yes. T.W.E.L.V.E. in 4-5 months. These are the books in my Cycles of the Lights series. Granted it was all first drafts, and needs an exorbitant amount of editing. However, I feel the over-arcing plot is solid.

I am aiming to shrink that number down to 10, possibly 8 books. With a few novellas scattered in. It remains to be seen how it will work. I’m currently in final stages of production for Book Two: The Seed of Life. Before it, I published Fall of Ima, and the novella, Vesper’s Curse.

Getting around to publishing the first novel and novella was a long, and troubled path. Of course I sought out agents. It wasn’t a waste of time—though I ultimately didn’t get signed. I learned a lot through feedback and found myself amidst supportive groups of writers.

However, I like to finish something before I start on another. The delay was the most frustrating in that there were times I wanted to work on later parts of my story. There were moments when strong inspiration struck—when I felt deeply connected to a character. I would tailor it bit by bit. Yet, I feared changing it too much. What if I get signed and my editor/publisher wants me to go in a different direction? Then all the work I’ve done would be wasted.

That led me to another concern. I had to decide what elements in my story were most important to me. It was difficult to know where to draw the line. What would I be wiling to fight for?

Despite all the hair pulling and back and forth, the process was beneficial. I came out understanding what I needed most to keep in my story. Everything else—no matter how much I like it—could be edited away.

There are still days were I connect deeply with my Arstella and Vance characters. They’re supposed to come out in the 3rd-5th full-length novels. (Hoping to shrink that down to 2 books) But I’m still working on Kameclara and Stanten (Book Two and Three). Arstella and Vance will have to wait. I’ve started a separate journal, where I write down the inspirations that strike.

To clarify for new readers: The series follows two primordial souls, En and Il as they reincarnate through many lives. They’re attraction towards each other is echoed in the universe as the concept of yin and yang, gravity, magnetism. In book one, En is Meliora, Il is Jedrek. In book two, they’re Kameclara and Stanten. Later, Artstella and Vance.

To sum things up: writing is difficult. We need to protect our creative space and process. Sometimes, that means sacrificing time for works to come. Yet, as long as we keep to it and improve day by day, we’ll get there.

Wishing you happy writing, everyone!

This was not a sponsored post. Ava Reiss posts every first Tuesday of the month. Ticana Zhu posts every third Tuesday.

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