SONG OF LYRAN takes readers on a journey through history. The novel tells the story of five women who share the same soul. You observe how each of them battles darkness during their lifetime. You watch how they evolve (or fail to) over eons, from pre-history to the current day. Writing the novel required an interesting creative process. Here’s how I did it.
Finding a platform to facilitate the creative process
I wrote this novel on the Akimbo Writing in Community (WiC) platform from October 2021 to June 2022. The platform no longer exists, but the community encouraged us to show up, engage with other writers, and post daily. It gave me the opportunity to “write out loud.” The biggest benefit? Receiving real-time feedback on what I created as I created it.
SONG OF LYRAN is the third book I’ve written and the first I published, thanks to the support of the WiC community. Because of the daily rhythm of writing, I wrote the story in rounds. This allowed me to think of the women’s stories as verses of a song.
Writing a novel like a song
I ‘recorded’ a segment of one woman’s voice per day during my writing time. The next day, I’d record another woman’s story.
I’d start each round with Honey, who anchors us to the present day. Then I’d go back in time to Sekhmet, the first woman of this line of Lyrans. From there, I’d proceed in historical order from Filomela to Forach, to Juana. Then, I started over with Honey.
When I’d reach the end of what felt like a major movement in the overall novel, I’d insert a ‘chorus.’ This chorus tied the women’s stories together. These choruses became the ‘Book of Lyran’ excerpts which close each of the novel’s five parts.
So, as you read SONG OF LYRAN, you are reading a song that has five verses and five choruses. 🙂
How constraints affected the creative process
Design and necessity dictated the length of each chapter. As any working, single mom can attest, you work on passion projects as time allows. This meant I often wrote late at night. I wanted to give writing my all, but I also needed to be smart about how I conserved my energy and preserved my health. After all, writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint.
I solved this problem by not pushing past my limits. For example, when a woman’s story felt like it was approaching a cliffhanger, I’d end that day’s chapter. If I knew I was depleted, I didn’t try to write. Instead, I parked my thoughts or did research, and posted my notes.
This naturally kept chapters short. But I intentionally limited their length for another reason. I know people are pressed for time. (That’s also why there’s an audiobook version.) In case you’re a closet (or open) bathroom reader, the chapters are designed to fit into each trip. 😉 It’s not something people like to advertise, but a lot of great books can be read on the toilet. (DON QUIXOTE and Gunter Grass’s THE FLOUNDER were some of my short-chapter faves.)
Benefits of writing in rounds
Writing in rounds benefited my creative process in a couple of ways. First, I’d stop writing when I got tired. This allowed me to manage the daily commitment to showing up.
The second big advantage to writing in rounds meant more time to think about where the story should go. Ending on a woman’s narrative cliffhanger allowed me to consider all her options before I continued her story. This kept me from giving in to easy solutions or narrative hacks and resulted in some surprising story twists.
Writing in a round this way also created thematic echoes. They organically show up in each woman’s story because each woman’s story was being held in my head as I wrote the others.
Writing fictional versions of real lives
Each woman in SONG OF LYRAN existed. The exception is Honey, who represents modern motherhood in 21st-century America.
I often stopped to Google random things like geographically specific flowers or historically accurate weapons while writing. (I’m sure my browser history from that time is interesting!)
Sometimes I spent that day’s time researching instead of writing. But the daily practice meant I had the time and space to integrate what I’d learned. As a total geek, I enjoyed researching as much as writing. And I’ve heard some readers enjoyed geeking out on Google fact-checking me, too!
Watch me talk about my process on the ‘Author’s Perspective
Want to learn more about my creative process and hear me read an excerpt from the novel?
Catch me on AIB Network’s “Author’s Perspective.” AIB programming appears at www.aibtv.com/aibeverywhere and in 30+ counties surrounding Atlanta on channel 295 on Comcast and channel 6 on AT&T U-verse. You do not have to subscribe to watch. Just click the play icon on the video box for the livestream.
If you catch it, let me know what you think. And feel free to ask questions here that you didn’t hear answered during the interview!