Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new?

I don't have very many nice things to say about 2010. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, but I think that might be the only good thing that happened. That and I have an amazing husband, family, and friends. Every time I hang out with them, especially the friends I've known forever and don't get to see enough, I feel so lucky to know such smart, funny, kind, caring, and completely unique people. And my husband is like that too of course, plus he is my stability, my rock.

Without these people I don't think I could have survived 2010.

2010 has been hell year in so many ways. It started off with a mysterious sickness affecting all three of my cats that would take 10 months to get under control and is something we'll be walking a tightrope to handle for the rest of their lives.

2010 was the year that anything that could go wrong did. It was the year the house flooded. Twice. Exactly one month apart. I used to tell myself that bad things happened in threes and then came the good. But the bad things just kept coming. Every phone call was bad news, another worry, another heartache.

So good riddance to 2010. My only concern is that it won't take all of its bad juju with it. But my best friend keeps pointing out that we have better luck in odd number years. I'm trying to tell myself this is true. I met my husband in an odd number year, married him in an odd number year, and I sold my first book in an odd number year....

Oh the book thing, without a doubt that has been the worst thing about 2010. I had a lofty plan this year to write two books in one year even though TWO YEARS is the shortest period of time it has ever taken me to write ONE book. I thought I might be able to sell on partial though, particularly to the publisher that put out my first two books. But they rejected my third book in January. I told myself it was okay because they were interested in seeing an adult book from me and I wanted to rewrite that partial as an adult book. Plus I had another partial that I was super excited about and thought would get snatched right up. That one got rejected by multiple publishers, though a few of them said they would be interested in seeing it if I developed the whole thing.

Okay, I thought, I'll do that after I finish this adult book. The bartender book as those of you who read my blog or follow my Twitter have come to know it. At that time I was in love with the story, in love with the characters and the writing was going well. I still love the story, still love the characters, but the writing has been terrible for the past four or five months. Every time I hit my stride, I hit a snag. I've tried every trick I know. Taking a break and starting something new. Writing quickly, writing slowly. Getting my critique partners to take a look at it. I finished a very rough draft thinking that rewriting would be a new mindset and that was when things would clear up for me.

For a while they did. It was very slow going. Like I've revised four chapters/sixty pages this entire month slow going, but it felt good. I'd done a fair amount of cutting and compressing and reshaping and I was feeling positive even though I know I have a lot of work ahead. (Altogether I have to cut 60,000 words. Yeah, that's a lot.) I still thought with my upcoming writing retreat, I'd be in a good place. By then I would have gotten past the hardest parts and would have nothing but momentum to build on during my retreat. For me, that is when a writing retreat is truly productive, when you've already got a project off the ground and know it well. Then you have the time to really fly through it. My best writing retreat was when I was finishing a major draft of BALLADS and had time to start a second draft immediately. I was totally in the zone and I thought that was going to happen this time too. And if it did I thought I could possibly finish the rewrite by end of January/early February and have a full book to shop for the first time in three years. Yes, three years. That's how long ago I finished the draft of Ballads that sold. I've been struggling to find the right story and write the whole story ever since.

Monday, I hit a wall. There is so much back story that has to be woven into this book. It can be woven through out and would work best that way, but I don't know how to do it. Tuesday, I skipped the chapter where I got stuck and tried the next one. Ran into the same problem. Maybe I need to carefully outline, something which I normally hate doing because I love making discoveries on the page. Maybe I'm just not good enough to tell this story.

I'm not trying to sound whiny or fish for compliments here. I know I'm a pretty good writer. This year I've begun to doubt that I'll ever seriously be great though. This year, after all of the rejection, from publishers, from my dream writing retreat, after the disappointment with the performance of my first two books, I started to think about all that I'd given up to do this. I told myself that if I was ever going to have kids I'd decide to do it by the age of 32. That's next year. I'm in no financial state to have a child if we decided we wanted one. I told myself I'd be living in Seattle by now, the place where I really really want to be, but I'm still stuck in Chicago, a place that though I have friends and family here, I really have never liked living in.

Again, not meaning to sound whiny. This is what being a writer is. Sacrifices for the story, for doing what you love. And when it comes down to it, when I sit there and try to think what else I could do instead of writing--and I have admittedly done that many times this year--I draw a complete blank. This is the only thing I want to do. I can't imagine a life without writing stories. Though sometimes I want it and think it would be so much simpler to just work a regular job and come home and enjoy other people's stories in books, in TV. But really truly I can't imagine it. This is what I do.

And 2011, I kept telling myself, would be my year. I would break through. I would sell another book. Maybe even my breakout book, but dude, if I could just finish a book, a book I was as proud of as the last one, that alone would be an accomplishment.

But now I am starting to wondering if I made all of these sacrifices this year for the wrong story. Have I wasted an entire year trying to write a book that is too big or I am simply not good enough to write?

I have other ideas, but none of them as fully formed as the one I'm working on now. To start fresh would mean to spend months brainstorming and drafting, maybe even a whole year. Instead of having a book ready to shop this spring, it would most likely mean next winter. That scares me. Starting again scares me. I don't do that. Not without finishing something. Yes, I stopped writing the book that became BALLADS for years to work on I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE but that is because I'd gotten that book as far as I could take it and knew it needed time and because IWBYJR was tugging so hard. I knew it was time to set one aside and work on the other. I knew.

Right now I don't know.

I love the bartender book and I want to see it through, but I'm afraid that I can't and I'm so sick of the constant battles with it. For every good week of writing, I have a shitty month. It's beginning to remind me of a bad relationship. Before my husband, I dated someone for eight years. For at least three of those years, I knew that the relationship was never going to work, but I was too scared to admit that I failed. So I wasted all of that time and energy.

My point is that even though I knew when to break up with the pre-BALLADS book, I have a history of not being able to admit failure. And I'm really starting to wonder if I should scream UNCLE! and walk away from the bartender book. Start 2011 fresh. No bad juju from 2010 left. However that also means that 2011 will feel a lot like 2010-- a long uphill battle to get my writing career back on track, a whole new book that I don't feel like I have confidence to write. AND the writing retreat I've been looking forward to may not be as helpful as I hoped because that kind of writing time is not productive for me on a fresh project. I need more daydreaming time then.

So there are pro's and con's on both sides, but I just don't know. I guess I'll see how today goes. Due to work and holiday plans this is my last day of 2010 to write and I think I'm going to spend it outlining and index carding and seeing if I can figure things out. Then I'll at least give it one last try on January 2 at my writer's group, but man, if it doesn't work....

I leave on my retreat in a little over a week. I really want to be productive there because it cost me money that I don't really have to spend and I really do just want to be in a much better mindset next year. I need to be happy with my life and my writing again.

So I'm looking for advice here. How do you know when it's time to break up with a book? And would you ever break up with a book if you wrote 160,000 words, spent a year on it and were already part way into the revision? What's more important, a fresh start for the new year or feeling like I've accomplished something? And for those of you who have listened to me whiny closely over the past few months, your thoughts are especially appreciated because you probably know my angst better than anyone. I love this story, but is it worth the continued agony? Out with the old, in with the new? Or keep on keeping on?

I guess for now, I'll go tackle that outline.

21 comments:

Kathy Picciano said...

Stephanie, I feel your pain. 2010 started out with a bang for me I self-published my book since, never mind getting a publisher, I couldn't even get an agent to look at it and I loved the story so much that I wanted to get it out. Well I did and for the three hundred and something books I've sold the reviews were positive and everyone is looking for the sequel. There lie my problem, like you I wrote because I love the story but it just wasn't flowing. What I did and maybe you should, I gave a very good friend a copy of the first 200 pages. She came back with "This should be your book." What I loved about her critique is she wanted more storyline to what I'd already written and not additional story. That was back in October. The book is far from done, but at least I have a direction. Get some feedback from a trusted friend - another set of eyes may point you in the right direction.
Happy "2011"

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Kathy, That is great that your book was so well received and that your friend was able to give you direction. I've had three people look at this book and brainstorm with me and I've definitely gotten some good advice from that, but there is only so much they can do, they can't solve the major problems of the book for me because it's my story, so unfortunately I'm still stuck. The people who read it want to read more, but I still don't know if that is enough to tell me to continue when the book has caused so much trouble and put me so so so far behind on my career and personal goals.

Harmony said...

Maybe you're at the point with this book that you were with Ballads - You've taken it as far as you can right now. That's not saying to give up on it but just to let it go for a while, put your energy elsewhere, then maybe in a few months, a year, whatever, it will be ready.

And whatever you do, you didn't waste 2010 working on it. You wrote. You learned a LOT about how you write and what works for you and what doesn't. I'm a big believer in that everything we write, no matter how crappy it is, no matter what it is, makes someone a better writer because we learn. The only way to become a better writer is to write, which you did.

I'm hoping, like you, that 2011 leaves all of 2010's crap behind. I'm writing a long letter/journal entry of all the bad things/leftover negative feelings from the year and burning it on New Year's Eve. Out with the bad, in with the good!

Julie H said...

Wow, Stephanie, I don't think I could stick with a book that was so difficult to pull out of me. You should really be proud of yourself for that. I guess the choice to stick with it or move on depends on what you want to get out of your writing experience. I write because I enjoy (most of) my characters, and I want to see where they will go. I write because it is a pleasurable, sometimes cathartic experience for me. While there may be pain, it is pain I am working through with the writing. If the writing were causing me pain throughout and after the process is over? I think I'd stop. So you have to decide why you do it, what about it makes you happy, and whether your old book can fulfill those things for you. And you can't look at it as time wasted. What's done is done, and even if it wasn't what you thought would be done, it was still something. The notecards sound promising, but so does starting something completely new. Do what is going to make you feel the best inside, even if that means 2010 was a wash. 2011 is an odd year after all.

John McNally said...

If it's any consolation, I've written four unpublished novels -- two before Troublemakers and two after, for a grand total of 10 years of unpublished writing out of the past 20 years. And one of those was written in the past four years. Not saying you should give up on the book, just that these things happen. And each unpublished novel was necessary for the next published book. None of it's wasted. Just frustrating.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thanks for the advice everyone. So far it sounds like I should walk away, which I have to admit scares me shitless. Especially the idea of going to this writing retreat I spent a lot of money on and wasting my time starting something new which is more a period of daydreaming to me than hours and hours of writing like I prefer to do at a retreat. And I'm just so sad to let go of these characters.

Julie, I am like you in that I do it for the love of the characters and for catharsis. But yeah, I don't know, the process of writing this book is making me more miserable than anything before it. I don't know if that is the book's fault or my depression with my career in general or what, but yeah I don't know. I'll start with the notecards.

Harmony, maybe it is time. It's just scary because I knew with that pre-Ballads book. This book I'm clinging to like my life depends on it. And I know I definitely learned a lot, it's just really frustrating to know that in that process I set my life/career goals back big time. Now was really not a good time for that to happen. I like your idea of writing and burning a letter. I may do that!

John, thanks for sharing this with me. As you know I admire your work greatly and consider you to be a mentor. It's nice to know I am not alone with these types of issues. And yeah, I know it's not wasted learning experience wise but it is very very frustrating for sure.

mermayd said...

you did a great job every day, your dedication was enormous. i admire your gumption! i always had an idea for a book about former boyfriends. like sketches of relationships, how it was in the beginning, the good times, and what went wrong/wright. maybe thats an idea for you. just sayin...keep it up. you are a fantastic writer..it's all gold!

another good thing said...

Don't ever think of it as time wasted. the book may not work- and you may abandon it... but is there one character that stands out? One scene, one dialogue that really grabs you?
Some of the best novels grew from bits and pieces of abandoned work, from unfinished short stories, from images that never came together... until some one else showed the writer a new way to look at her work.
Be kind to yourself, think about your story, and use your retreat to just wrote- without plot or goal or direction. you may surprise yourself.
and on the retreat aspect... if you are every looing for another one:
We are 2 women who believe all writers deserve a retreat from the “real world” to get creative.
May I introduce us here? and perhaps we can share links??
Affordable Coastal Retreats for Women by Women
WRITE BY THE WATER offers 5 day retreats for aspiring and
published writers in all genres. Work w/In–house author,
Skype w/NYC agent/editor, meet like-minded women.
We provide bed, breakfast & lunch, plus time, space and
motivation to write. Don’t put it off any longer.
Apply now for 2011 coastal retreats:
Feb 18-22, NC. June 3-7, NJ. Oct 7-11 Vancouver
5 days for $899, 3 day wkend $599, Early Bird discounts
call 678-777-9618 Or online: http://writebythewater.com
thanks, Linda

John McNally said...

I forgot to add that the common denominator for all four of the rejected books was that I wrote them out of desperation, hoping they would change my life -- get me a new job, get me out of debt, get me out of wherever the hell I was living. The five published books (with one exception, because I was under contract) I began by saying, "Fuck it. I'm going to write what I want to write, whether it gets published or not." Every few years I have to remind myself of what it felt like to write when I first started writing, stripping away all of the self-imposed expectations, the publishers' expectations, agent's expectations, and just write a book I'd like to read and have fun writing it.

little miss gnomide said...

I understand this dark place that you are in. Feeling stuck is one of the worst feelings. But it is in the dark places that we truly grow and transform. Sink into your dark place and identify with that goddess of darkness, Persephone.

And always remember, everything you experience fully gives you material to write about. You have the power to transform everything through your writing.

Amy Lukavics said...

Your year has been *really* stressful, so it's only natural that your brain tries to block out the inner writing voice.

When most people hear the word 'meditation', they immediately imagine silk robes and giant cushions and incense and chants and hums. But honestly, all meditation is (in my opinion LOL, I'm no expert) is tricking your brain to relax enough that you can REALLY and truly ponder certain things, in this case your rewrite ideas. It's kind of unfair how difficult it is to put 150% of our focus into our art, especially when life is throwing curve balls at you left and right.

When I sit down to write, I always like to know what I'm doing beforehand, and where I'm going. I've tried the "I'm gonna just plant my butt in the computer chair and force myself to do it," and let me tell you that only makes things worse. Instead, I try to choose periods of time that I usually completely zone out because what I'm doing is too routine to think about- taking a shower, or doing my makeup, whatever. I've had some insaaaane fucking brainstorming in the shower, friend.

As far as The Plan of 2011 goes, there are a few things you need to remember to stay sane. First of all, there aren't right or wrong choices in all of this, just different ones. Do not feel as if you need to decide the bartender book's fate. Don't limit yourself to only working on one thing at once.

Yes, taking on two projects doesn't initially sound like the best idea if you're having a hard time carrying one up the mountain. BUT. Don't tell yourself, “I'll work on two things at once.” In your brain, you know that an idea could come along and flourish on its own, and it will, whether you are looking for it or not. Have you ever heard people give dating advice along the lines of, “As soon as you stop looking, that's when the love of your life will come along?”

Just take a few free days to completely relax. Watch old favorite movies, TV shows, books, anything that has ever served as inspiration to you in the past. Don't actively search for 'inspirational' things while reading/watching this stuff, just relax and focus on the story and get INTO it. This will help relight some of the fire.

Once the fire's lit, stay calm and focused, but not the kind of focused where anything unexpected will mean the whole thing's for nothing. Scribble a few notes for bartender book here, make a few sentence long summaries about potential new projects, and wait as patiently as humanly possible until you get THAT feeling.

Once that feeling happens, you're good.

(If things get dire, and you feel like patience is a myth that luckier people have made up, start a completely random and only mildly time consuming hobby. The trick is to control how/when you completely immerse yourself in a single project.)

You have not lost anything, writer wise. As far as the questions of 'Can she do it? Does she have it in her after all the struggle?” Don't make me go all fan girl on you, haha. :D

Robin said...

Hi. :) I'm a lurker on your blog and on Twitter, and I'm also on the TeenLitAuthors list so I've seen your posts there over the past few years too. I can relate to pretty much everything you’ve described here, and in your other recent posts.

I've finished two books. The first one was a painstaking process that took nearly three years before I had a version I was happy submitting. I thought about stopping it over and over, but I'd already put so much time and effort into it, and I did like it a lot, that I was determined to finish it. I did, and I'm glad I did, but it's in a drawer now, and that's probably where it will stay.

The second book I wrote had been in the back of the mind throughout the three years I spent on the first book. It had been cooking there, stewing up some awesome characters and a storyline that seemed deceptively simple. I had a good feeling about it, and I sat down to write it while my first book was on submission. To my shock -- I am a slow writer; see the aforementioned three-year book -- I finished the second book in less than five months. It was like once I was free from the burden of finishing the epic book that I was so determined to write, I felt so much less pressure, and the writing came so much easier. By that point, my first book had made the query rounds and yielded me some nice personal rejections but no offers, so I started sending out the second book. A couple of weeks after I finished it, I had an offer of representation. I couldn't belive how simple the whole process was, considering how traumatic the previous years had been. That book is out on submission to publishers now... but I'm trying not to think about that and focus instead on my new WIP, which so far seems to be going slowly again. So, what I've learned is that although there are patterns to my writing process, it's not easy to predict how long something will actually take to complete. Each book has its own needs.

I'm inclined to suggest, as others have, putting the bartender book aside and committing yourself to something else. It doesn't mean you've wasted all the time you've spent working on it -- you can still come back to it anytime, when you're less frustrated. But I’m hesitant to really come right out and say that that’s what I would do in your situation. Every writer's relationship with her book is so personal. For example, I’m really glad I finished my three-year book, despite its drawer status. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been in the mindset I needed to be in to write my second book, because I would’ve felt like a failure for not finishing what I had committed to (I used to call myself “one of the great unwashed unpublished unagented unfinished,” with a self-deprecating chuckle, except that I never really found it very funny).

As for the retreat, if you do decide to start a new project, I wouldn’t think of daydreaming and organizing your thoughts while on the retreat as a waste of time at all ― you might find the different environment stimulating for that process in ways you haven’t experienced before.

Whatever you decide, good luck, and keep us posted.

Annika said...

Okay, this might be crazy, but...what about losing the backstory? Just tell the story that's happening NOW. Could that work?

Jinxie said...

That's a tough one, girl. I've been stuck in my own cycle of editing hell. lol

2010 sucked for everyone, I think. It was particularly bad for me too, but so was 2009.

I only break up with a book when it stops talking to me. If I still hear it/see it, I can't let it go. I don't know how you write, but if it's anything like that, keep plugging away at it. It'll all gel together at some point. Maybe even at the retreat.

Nothing will stilt and stop a story or the creative process like stress. I know because my word well dried up for a year. You need to de-stress. I know it's been a bad year. Maybe the writing retreat will help with that too. I don't know, you've put a lot of work into this book. You need to figure out WHY you're hitting a wall. It's hard to walk away from 160K words. You kept saying "wasted time" yesterday. But is it really wasted time, even if you walk away from the book? I don't believe any time spent writing is wasted.

I have one story with a book and a half written on it (series, obviously). Then I decided to rewrite. I like where it's going now, but I have another project that's more important to me and that's the one I'm editing now. I started writing it two years ago. Doesn't mean I've given up on the werewolves. Just means they're being set aside until I have time to fix them. They need a good amount of fixin', but it's doable.

You'll figure it out. Spend today outlining, thinking about the story, going over the plot. Then do something else for a bit. I find that's when the light bulb turns on for me.

BTW, I hate outlining too.

cat said...

Oh my gosh, Stephanie, not only are we kindred hair colour spirits, I have always said I have better luck in odd-numbered years as well. It's actually a running joke in my family and with my friends. They all know how me and even numbers do not get a long and think it's funny.

2010 has not been a fantastic year, at least no one in my family passed away as one did a year from 2007-2009, but we did have a loss - my husband's job right as I was coming to NYC in May and he's still looking for work. I am worried about losing the house. I haven't been to have my hair coloured since May! ;) (priorities, you know!)

I wish you a much happier 2011 and hope that those odd numbered faeries are watching our backs.

Go, go Gadget Odd Numbered Year mojo!!

Leah Clifford said...

I really think, and reading this blog reinforced it, that it's time to set it down. Walk away. If it's making you miserable, you need to let go. You said you had a history of holding on too long, and it seems like this story is like a sore you can't stop poking at. It's never going to be able to heal if you don't leave it alone. And maybe that's all it needs...some time to breathe. Maybe you'll come back to it in 2012 and it'll be all shiny and all the flaws you can't see now will be lit up like christmas! Here's my other thought. You keep talking about backstory, and how much backstory there is to tell. What if you wrote book 2? Just a thought....

Either way, write a different book. If this is book 2 you've been turning over and over, start book 1. If it's not, move on to something else. But you've got to move on. You're just spinning wheels.

So now, confession time for me. I wrote the first 60k of A Touch Mortal in like 6 weeks, which is insanely fast for me. I livedatebreathed that story. And then I got stuck. Horrible stuck. I doubted EVERYTHING. I was crushed and terrified and so broken over it. I let it go after 6 months. I thought I wasn't the right person to tell the story, or that it wasn't my story to tell. After a few days of break, I realized it was missing a point of view and everything just clicked. I never would have seen that if I hadn't "given up." If it makes you feel even MORE better, the first edit suggestion I had from an actual editor had me add over a hundred pages to the front. My fixed book was still broken lol. I did it and it was much better for it. I'm working on the second book now. It's at 85k...and it's not going well. I was just given notes that involved cutting the first 200 pages and moving everything around. My book is broken. But I'm going to fix it. You know when your book's not working. If it doesn't work to the extent that you know gut feeling that it's not working, you need to let it go for now. You can ALWAYS come back.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and personal experiences. It means a ton to me and I'll probably spend the rest of the week processing them and what I learned today from outlining, which is....

The book is still too big. And it's not the fault of the backstory, that was really only an issue at the front of the book and I have figured out how to weave that throughout mostly. To speak to Annika's point and one of Leah's, it's mostly told in the present, the back story given is necessary to the present story, but there isn't enough back story to make into two books.

The issue right now is there is just too much. The middle and the end are both way too long and I can;t figure out how to cut them.

Jinxie, Leah, Robin and Amy you have all given me so much to think about. I feel like I'm being pulled in so many different directions because this really is a book that came from my heart and I have come so far I don't want to give up and Robin, I do fear it will leave a mark if I don't finish it, add one more self-doubt to the pile. But then again I don't want to spend a ton more time on it if it is going nowhere.

Ahhh I really just wish I had a gut instinct about this one, though I have to say I think my gut is saying see it through because I literally can't imagine working on another story right now even though I have some great ones in my head. But that might just be my stubbornness. Oh well, I have to take the next three days off from writing anyway due to other commitments so maybe I'll just see how I feel in the new year.

And for everyone who commented (like Cat! sorry about your hubby's job loss) as to what a shitty year this was, I hope 2011 is better for all of us.

Annika said...

<3 I wish I could help. I'm certain things will get better for you!

Jasmine said...

I know I commented on FB, but I've been following your blog, and I do have a little advice to share.
Maybe you remember, way back when, right after IWBYJR came out, I e-mailed you to talk to you about my book, the one about the sexually abused girl who drowned her sorrows in sex and alcohol? I loved that book, still do. I love the characters and the story, and the way the two abused teens find peace with each other. I rewrote it, edited, rewrote, edited--10 drafts total. I added all this subtext and flashbacks and gave it all these different layers--and readers called it wordy. (It's still only at 80,000 but I admit there could be some cutting, but anywho...)
I didn't want to give it up. But I tried to sell it for three years, and I got form rejections from every agent. Not a single request for more. So, I gave it up. It was hard, and I still wish I could tell Cameron's story, but people just don't want to hear it. It's too depressing/edgy for YA, too cliche for women's fiction. It was just a story I wrote for myself, and now I'm at a point where that's good enough.
Maybe you should start thinking about the bartender book that way. Write it for you, if you decide to continue it.
As far as filtering in the backstory, that's something I'm good with. You just find a place in the present that reminds the character of the past, tell the reader what they need to know, bring us back to the present and so on. It's hard to explain, but I'm willing to take a look if you're interested. (Totally understand if you're not BTW).
Maybe it's like Ballads, and needs to simmer some more, but it doesn't sound like that's a good business move for you right now, and starting a new project doesn't sound like one either. What does your agent say?
Is there any way that you can add to the back story to make it into two books? Or maybe bump a secondary character up to a primary? Because from following your blog and stuff, it sounds like the story just refuses to be cut. You've got a tough one, here. My heart goes out to you. I wish I could give advice that would make it click for you. But, when all else fails, I flip a coin and call it fate.

robintalley said...

Btw, I just came across this post on Jackson Pearce's blog from November and it made me think of your dilemma: http://jackson-pearce.com/book/the-damn-historical-novel-is-scary/

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

Robin, thanks for that link. I'm glad I'm not alone.

Jasmine, thanks for your advice. writing it for myself is how it might just end up. I really don't see a way to split it into two books. Believe me I've looked, but maybe it is time to walk away for awhile. I may go with the coin flipping to decide that.