Novel Update: Nine of Wands

 1:30 a.m.

A few moments ago, I shut my eyes and pulled out one card from my tarot:  The Nine of Wands.  A woman stands alone, holding two crossed wands.  Behind her, seven wands stand upright.   She appears weary- how long has she held those wands?  Yet there is no surrender in her gaze,  for the card symbolizes perseverance and stamina.

 It’s been a long time since I typed the first word of this WIP.  Whatever that first word was- it’s been long ago changed.  And changed, again.  And again.  

I’ve persevered when my characters moved  from 1880s England to 1850s New England.    I’ve endured  characters bickering over everything from who had the starring role to what their name should be.  Dark fantasy turned to Gothic horror when a ghost appeared. Winter setting turned to summer back to winter before finally deciding upon summer.  The contrast of rich meadowland, blooming trees, and wildflowers against an interior of gloominess and despair intrigued me. 

The most difficult moment was when I realized that my novel was too short.   I had the dreaded novella.   Sure, you can bring up succint masterpieces like, “The Postman Only Rings Twice”,  “The Turn of the Screw”, ” Heart of Darkness”, and “Death in Venice”- but try to sell one today as a newbie novelist.

I took a long, hard look at my work to see if I could honestly add more story to it.  (versus crappy word padding). 

Well, I could.  And I did.   (It only took a few months of tossing and turning in bed,  pacing back and forth across the living room floor at dawn, and glaring at my computer screen)

Now I have the full story intact.   And all the headaches  have been worth it, because it’s definitely a stronger work.

 Today I begin revising chapter 8 out of 20 chapters.

I’m still holding the crossed wands in my hands.   When they start to feel too heavy, I remind myself their weight is only a reminder of what I’ve conquered.

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Published in: on April 14, 2009 at 2:42 am  Comments (42)  
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42 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hooray! I don’t know what a WIP is, but it sounds like you have completed a wonderful project. Congrats!

  2. Awesome! GO REVISIONS! Always my favorite and least favorite part at the same time!

  3. Hooray! Big wows! I’m so proud of you, and so happy for you!

    We all know how hard the process is — perseverance and stamina are always a writer’s best friends. : )

    Just grinning ear to ear for you, from my dusty corner of the world.


  4. I liked how you detailed the characters’ journey. Interesting premise and time period. I love historical fiction.

    Good luck with your revisions!

  5. Oh, and of course, how could I forget to say: and I love the horror element! 😉

  6. Thanks, Ink! I really appreciate your support. 🙂

    WIP is “work in progress”.

  7. Colby,


    Oh, I hear you about the love/hate regarding revisions. But hmm…come to think about it, I have that same tempestuous relationship with first drafts…

  8. Awww, thanks Em!

    Seeing you enter the query world has been a huge inspiration.

  9. Thank you, Jewel!

    Let’s hope the end project lives up to the premise.

  10. Congratulations on your progress, Gypsy! Adjusting a work for appropriate length can be a real challenge in any genre — it seems I’m always overwriting or underwriting my drafts.

  11. What an amazing journey. And I think that you have also inspired me to go dig out my own Tarot cards and see what they have to say to me. My WIP has been gathering dust for a while now… I suppose I put my wands down for a while. Thank you for visiting my blog!

  12. Yep, right now my WIP is floundering a bit. I know where I have to go, but getting there seems a bit of a problem. I’m already thinking of revising stuff, not to mention that with one and a half Betas in, I’m also itching to get back to my first WIP and clean it up of all the bad grammar it still has.

  13. Thanks Edward,

    I’m the Queen of Writing Too Tight. I swear, next time, I’m letting it all out.

  14. Thanks Kathleen!

    I’m going to make reading the Tarot in correlation to my novel as a regular blog feature.

    Have fun reading yours. And I’ll be back to visit your blog again.

  15. Hey Ralfast,

    I’m sure everyone here can understand the floundering bit. We’ve all been there.

    Good luck!

    I’m curious to see how your novel has come from the first draft you sent me.

  16. Congrats, Gypsy! Good for you for finishing it. I keep setting aside Death by Scandal to write short stories, but no more. I will be done by May or you have permission to pelt me with golf balls.

  17. Good going, Astro Sis! Sometimes it feels like we turn ourselves inside out to find the right setting, timing, characters, names… I’m only about halfway between inside/outside 😉 Very confusing.

    Celebrate with a fresh batch of brownies! 🙂

  18. Tarot and writing. I can never resist. 😀

    Major congrats on completing your novel! I had to turn a novella into a novel and it was no easy task so I know where you’re coming from! 🙂

    Good work!

  19. That’s awesome!

    I’m in this exact same position right now. My second draft ended at 45,000 words; the third at 62,000. Right now I’m at 78,000 and still have one new chapter to write. I’m so excited to finally have a “full-length” MS because I, too, dreaded the novella label.

  20. Congratulations, Tasha! And I’m looking forward to reading more about what the cards prophesy for you.

    The Tarot cards have always fascinated me. They’re like a more artistic, deeper version of the Rorschach test, and there’s just an infinite number of ways they can be interpreted and analyzed. The Wands are the suit of doing and achievement and accomplishment, so you picked well. 🙂

  21. That is wonderful news that you not only persevered, turned it into a full length novel and have a stronger story at the end of it. What could be lovelier? Yes, the tossing and turning we can all do without, no matter what our personal cross to bear, but adversity teaches us more in life than easy success.

    I am impressed that you have a full length novel. I am finding it really hard to get past the 2nd chapter – in fact, I keep writing short stories when I get stuck. By the time this novel is done I would have written a 1000 short stories.

    Can’t wait for your novel in stores because it sounds fascinating and intriguing! I am so excited for you!

  22. Rock on, Gypsy! The first time you reach “The End” it feels like a heavy burden has been lifted, but the final “The End” is cause for major celebration. Buy a bottle of champagne and have a drink to your success! 🙂


  23. Hey Mary!

    Yes- please finish “Death by Scandal”. I need some good Victorian fiction to read. 🙂

    and thank you!

  24. Hey DD!


    Even though it will still take me some time to finish the revision- having the story complete is such a relief. God help any character who dares try to rebel again.

  25. Thanks so much Jenna.

    Nice to hear from someone who went through the same thing.

    On one hand, I am glad I was forced (so to speak) to turn my novella into novel length. My particular story is definitely better now.

    But with so many classic novellas- I do think it’s a shame that there’s such a prejudice against them in the publishing business. I’m a firm believer a story should be as long as it needs be- whether that’s 45,000 words or 100,000+.

  26. Thanks Melanie!

    Ah…another one who had the dreaded novella! So glad you fought through it, too.

    Major contrats to you for nearing the end.

  27. Thanks so much, Marian!

    I hope to have the next tarot/novel post up tomorrow.

    I’ve never taken the Rorschach test. Always was a bit curious what it would say about me.

  28. Thank you so much Venus!

    I still have a way to go with the revision, but having the “full” is indeed a relief.

    I’ve written several novels but this was the first one I really tackled with a serious eye on publication. Somehow I doubt my Little Women knock-offs I penned as a kid were publishable. 😉

    Oh, and learn from my mistake. Keep going! Just write. Even if you just type out random ideas for the next chapter. I spent way too long on my first chapter.

    Worry about revisions and editing later. You’ll get there. Your blog writing alone indicates you’re a great writer.

  29. Thank you so much LisAnne!

    Champagne shall flow when the final draft is done. 🙂

  30. *salutes Tasha*

    And a great bit w00t for pushing forward. It’s so hard to explain to people who don’t do it: writing a novel is WORK. Hard work. And finishing one is an accomplishment on par with getting through four years of college.


  31. Great news – good luck with the revisions!

  32. Thanks Amy!

    I think it’s hard for others to understand because writing a novel is such a unique endeavor.

  33. Thank you, Unfocused Me! 🙂

  34. Head off the weariness! Hold the wands high! The goal is calling. Press on! Press on!

  35. Good for you on all the progress you’ve made. I hate it when my characters bicker and change names too–sometimes, I swear they’re more schizophrenic than I am 🙂

    We’ll be pulling for you as you revise the latter chapters!

  36. Thanks Amy Doodle,

    Grrr. Chapter 8 is driving me nuts right now. I’ll remember your words: “Press on! Press on!” Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂

  37. Thank you so much, Nancy!

    All the encouragement means so much to me! You guys and gals are awesome.

  38. Oh Gypsyscarlett bask in that achievement! Determination and dedication have paid off. I am so thrilled for you. I am up to 24,000 words and want to take a year off to write but I can’t. You inspire me, life inspires me so I crawl on… The Tarot is fascinating; I loved the way you included that in your story. x

  39. Stillinheaven,

    Hi! Thanks so much! Your words are so sweet.

    And that’s so awesome that you’ve made it to 24,000 words. Big congrats to you! I would love to know more about what you are writing about.

    btw- I’ve been wanting to revisit your blog. Unfortunately, your link here doesn’t work, and I couldn’t remember the name of your blog. If you’d like to give the address, I can add it to my blogroll.

  40. Tasha – I wish you lived next door so we could meet and commiserate over coffee. I share your agony and your ecstasy. The more I hear about your WiP, the more I want to read it. Press on, because I suspect query road may just be easy for you. You have a unique premise, a fascinating world, and if your characters are strong enough to fight with you like that, then they are strong enough to push their way into print. ~waving Em’s pom poms like crazy and trying not to spill life giving coffee while doing so

  41. Awwww…Uppington

    Thank you so, so much! Your words totally encouraged me. I fought- and conquered chapter 8.

    I also wish we could have afternoons of coffee and brownies. 🙂

  42. Me too! Or is that me three?

    : )


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