Why Michelle Sagara Loves Her Job
by Michelle Sagara, author of Cast in Honor
I love my job.
I get to write structured daydreams about worlds in which magic is a natural force and people with wings can fly. There are dragons in the skies and in the darkness. There are ancient wars and overlapping histories. And there are people who move in and about all of these things, struggling to survive, to stake out some small patch of happiness in a world that is often hostile.
But (you knew there was going to be a but, right?)
I want to talk a bit about what it means to love my job.
I have just finished writing a novel that is very late. It’s late because I’ve started it from page one four times. I’ve written close to 400,000 words for this one book, most of which will never see the light of day because they’ve been discarded.
I didn’t start the book four times because I loved rewriting. I didn’t do it for the joy of creation. I did it because the first three attempts didn’t work, and when I hit 60,000 to 70,000 words in each attempt, I finally realized or accepted this fact.
I daydream about writing the perfect book. This is never going to happen, but it’s something to strive for, even when I fall short. The abandoned and unfinished attempts weren’t perfect—but I’m certain the finished book isn’t perfect either. It is, on the other hand, right. It’s the right book. But it’s not finished yet.
I’ll revise it, with my editor’s input. I’ll fret, but I always do that.
I’ll send it back to her, and my publisher will send it out to copy edit, and then it will come back to me, and I will have to read it again, and try to fix the things I missed the first and second time. I will then have to read page proofs—and nothing makes me as fretful and frustrated as page proofs. Nothing. My household grimaces in collective pain when I start them.
In between, I will read and comment on cover copy. I will look at cover sketches and roughs.
All of this takes months, and during those months, I will be working on the next novel as well. And, as might be inferred, I don’t love every minute of it. I didn’t love every minute of writing the wrong book three times, either.
There’s no job on earth that anyone can love one hundred per cent of the time. There’s no job that is simple, sweet joy. There are always parts of a job that have to be endured and worked through—just like cleaning the bathroom.
But if I couldn’t be creative, if I couldn’t tell my stories, if I couldn’t find those moments of narrative clarity and drive, I wouldn’t love this job. I probably wouldn’t be doing it.
So: when people ask me if I love writing, I tell them, truthfully, that I love my job.
And what that means is I love the important parts of it enough that I’m willing to do all the rest of it to the best of my abilities.
About Cast in Honor:
Elantra stands strong, but countless numbers of Hawks, the city’s staunchest protectors, were lost in the brutal attack. Humans, Barrani, Aerians, Leontines—none of the races emerged unscathed from the defense of the city. Homes were lost, families were scattered…and the outcast Barrani Lord Nightshade is missing from his castle in the fiefs.
Yet as the chaos surrounding the battle begins to wane, Private Kaylin Neya’s duties must resume, despite her grief. Called in to investigate a triple murder in a quiet part of town, Kaylin and her companions are soon embroiled in a case that is anything but routine. Evidence of the deadly Shadows that still threaten the city leads to hints of ancient, forgotten magics. And a visit to the Oracular Halls points directly to Ravellon—the heart of the Shadows and the darkness they contain.
But it is there that Lord Nightshade will be found—if he still survives.