One Step Forward, One Step Back

I’m back in Connecticut after a short break visiting friends and family in Brazil. June marked the two-year anniversary of our move to the USA, and we figured it was about time we visited São Paulo before the kids forgot everyone and everything.

Now, I’m not going to lie; it was one heck of an exhausting two and a half weeks, thanks to our determination to pack in as many social gatherings as we could. It was also, alternately: amazing, emotional, hilarious, stressful, crazy, peaceful, and sometimes downright scary.

I confess I was a little anxious about returning to Brazil, wondering what feelings it would bring out. Would I regret the move? Would my husband, or kids? But as it turns out, I needn’t have worried. It felt good to go back to São Paulo, and revisit old haunts and old friends. But, equally, it felt good to return to the new place we’ve learned to call home, and to love so dearly. Sometimes taking a step back can show us how great it is to move forward.

Yesterday, after suitcases had been emptied and dealt with, the empty fridge had been replenished, and the worst of the laundry maelstrom was over, I dusted off my current writing project and took the first peek at it since the kids’ school vacation began.

The novel I’m working on is a middle grade science fiction tale set on Earth in the near future. The thing is, though, it didn’t start life as a middle grade story. It was originally written as a crossover young adult novel, with both teen and adult characters. There were too many points of view, and things felt a little all over the place. It didn’t work. After half-heartedly subbing it to a handful of agents, I locked it away in a digital drawer.

A year later, and feeling a little stuck after writing yet another crossover YA with too many POV, I got to thinking about that other novel, the one that didn’t quite work. The story itself was a good one, and it had a lot of really cool action sequences I liked. What if…oh! What if I rewrote it? As a middle grade novel? I could pare down the POV, slash everyone’s age, reshape the characters… What if?

So in late May I started playing around with my shiny new-old idea. And it worked. It worked beautifully. Things that were a little off originally suddenly made sense. It was like a blurry image pulled sharply into focus. I was smitten. And it felt good to be writing middle grade fiction again, my first love.

But I had to turn to the past to be able to move forward. I had to reclaim that place I’d been in before, my YA novel, and only then could I find a new happy place in my writing. We are the sum of all our experiences, and our writing is the sum of all the words and worlds that came before.

Sometimes you just need to take a step back.

2015-07-30 10.14.27

Gratuitous beach photo from our vacation.

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