Friday, September 5, 2014

My Super Secret Special Project Has Crashed and Burned

This is not the blog post I was expecting to write today. Sometimes things happen.

I had a Super Secret Special Project well underway. I couldn't officially talk about it yet, and now I'll never get to, because I just had a call from the editor involved and the person in charge is cancelling it.

A few of you have heard from me personally what the Super Secret Special Project entailed, and were excited on my behalf. I was excited, too. I am sorry that it has come to an end.

On the other hand, I notice that I'm not crushed.

It was going to be a collaborative book between me and an author who usually writes for adults. He's more famous than me; both our names would have been on the collaborative book, but his would have been the one people noticed. His name would have gotten the book into airport bookstores and Wal-Marts and such; mine so far only gets me into regular bookstores and libraries and Amazon.

The problem is that with the best will in the world, and with nothing but respect for each other, we still aren't very similar. I write for children; I understand the genre very well, and I think I have a knack for expressing complicated stuff in simple terms. He writes for adults in a complex way that doesn't translate easily to a younger age group. We couldn't really compromise by writing a young adult novel because then both of us would have been at sea (and for other reasons), which meant this book would be very different from all his other books, which was problematic. Both of us write about settings--people, place, and time--that are important to us, and that we understand well. In the first weeks of writing, I was shocked by how much I didn't know about his normal setting, which would have been the book's setting, despite some pretty serious research. I think we were also both surprised by the number of things we couldn't really say because of the restrictions writing for children does put on the expression of adult themes. "We'll have to leave that out of the book," was something we said to each other several times.

"I know I can do this," I said to my husband, back at the beginning of the idea. My husband had reservations: he pointed out that this was not a book I would have thought to write on my own. And that's the real issue. Neither my collaborator nor I would have written this book on our own. I still think we could have written it together, but my collaborator came to believe otherwise, and I respect that.

It probably helps my general attitude toward this that before receiving the phone call I got a three-page email detailing the publicity plan for my novel that's coming out in January (it had been March, it's been moved up). The War That Saved My Life is the book of my heart, something I pulled out of nowhere and everywhere and spun using the best words I had. I'm thrilled that people are excited about it. The War That Saved My Life is mine. The Super Secret Special Project was never really going to be mine. It would have been ours, which was good enough for me, and yet, maybe not really. I find that I can let it go.