Writing Ravenmaster was the second most challenging thing I’ve done in the last four years.
The first was giving birth, though some days, the hardships of keeping my tiny human alive and juggling the word circus of my inner thoughts felt interchangeable. This overwhelming feeling would especially manifest when I would get bogged down with writer’s block or, worse so, self-doubt.
I would stare at the blank pages trying to force out the words with the same frustration I sometimes faced gazing at my infant daughter. I’d be near tears asking her, “What do you need? You have a fresh diaper. You’ve eaten and have been burped. Why are you still crying?” Most of the time, cuddles would fix all her problems, and I learned that I needed to be more gentle with myself through dealing with her.
Ravenmaster began its life as a short story, but as Margaret developed, I fell in love with her and couldn’t stop writing more. The short story became a three-parter, became a novella, became a force that haunted my nightmares. I told myself that I would have plenty of time to polish it off after the baby was born, and my cravings for movie theater nacho cheese subsided. Well, I was wrong. As with myself, my daughter, and my Chiweenie, I discovered that my perceived time was also short. During pregnancy, if I wasn’t at work, I was sleeping. Even the simple act of finding time to write was an adventure in itself. I would steal time away while I was at work, hiding my word document behind adobe pro or on my phone, only half paying attention to what was going on in the control room. When my husband was occupied playing video games, I would use the break from vomiting stomach bile to vomiting a few words onto the keyboard. There were times that I wrote while exhausted, which I should still be apologizing to my editor (and sending him gifts) for trying to decode. But no matter, I pushed through, and I continued to write.
I wrote and wrote and rewrote the story countless times, never satisfied with the result, but inching closer with each revision. I drove my husband insane, saying it was almost done because it was ALMOST done, just for the better part of 2 years. I asked him a few times if he wanted to read it since he’s read everything else I’ve written, but this time he said, “No. Not until you’re done.” So, I stopped asking. There were days when I would veg out watching the baby sleep, and he’d come in and whisper, “Is it done yet?” because he’s evil, and he knows things, and I love him, and he was right. I would groan. Sometimes I would pop open my laptop, an ancient beast born from the days before Instagram and TikTok, and take my frustration out on the white, glowing screen, and other times I would just shamelessly cuddle my baby.
When I finally began to like how the story was progressing, I started to bug my best friend/ ruthless editor to review my work. I stole more hours from him than I’d care to admit, but it was worth it. His notes strengthened my story, and he decoded my hyper dyslexia into something literate people can actually read and understand.
Though Ravenmaster took longer than I wanted, this book unexpectedly became a mental time capsule for me. Every time I would go back and rework certain scenes, I would be reminded of the stages of my daughter’s life; belly time where she would try to stretch out and see what I was writing, crawling and chasing after me to get her little hands on my keyboard, standing at my desk peering up at the black letters on the screen she could not yet read, and finally getting fast enough on her feet to run away forcing me off my butt to give chase.
Just as I watched my daughter struggle from a wiggly mass of goodness into a wild princess storming the playground under her rule, my experience with Ravenmaster has allowed me to crawl from my shell, hop out of the nest, and spread my wings as a writer.