Sunday: I SLEPT. It was glorious. I spent time with X and Kit while J was gaming, and Pablo came over and we all hung out for a while, and then J and I put Kit in the stroller and walked Pablo home (it's so cool that we can do that). We kind of wanted to cook, but the good market had closed by the time I got there—I wish they didn't close so early on Sundays—so we ended up ordering in Chinese food. Kit had a nightmare or something and woke up crying at 1 a.m. but X got them back to sleep quickly enough. I got totally caught up in researching interactions between Europeans and First Nations in early-19th-century Canada but eventually made myself buckle down and get work done. These 10 a.m. Monday deadlines that my new boss is so keen on are hard to get used to. But I got to bed before 6, so that's something.
Monday: I SLEPT AGAIN. Two days in a row of good sleep meant I woke up super perky. I was awake at 1:30, up by 2, and showered and dressed and fed by 2:45. I did some work and made some calls and was generally useful. Kit went right down for their post-daycare nap with minimal fuss, and I Skyped with Miriam for a bit, with the baby joining us after they woke up. They were teething hard, so I had to cut the call short and go ply them with books and Tylenol and milk and food and cuddles and crayons. Poor thing. We ordered in again because Mondays are no-cooking days. J took out the trash and recycling because my arms were pre-ouched and I didn't want to push them into being fully ouched, and then X and J went to bed and I found myself with no obligations other than needing to do some laundry, which mostly does itself. So I put my arm braces on and sat down with my protagonist journey outlines for Valour Advances and reconciled them and made a timeline... and realized I forgot to put the romance in my romance novel. *sob*
I have all the turning points in the relationship but not the parts where they get to know each other and build a connection. So right now it goes: they meet, they're mutually attracted, they go for a walk, [SOME RELATIONSHIP STUFF SHOULD GO HERE], Nathaniel comes out as trans, Henry goes away to talk with a friend and sort out how he feels about that, they reconnect, [MORE RELATIONSHIP STUFF SHOULD GO HERE], Nathaniel has a problem and Henry tries to solve it and it goes badly, their best friends help them figure it out, they patch it up, [HELLO RELATIONSHIP STUFF PLEASE], they build a life together, the end. I've detailed all the parts where they talk to other people and none of the parts where they talk to each other. I know where they run into problems but I don't have any of the tentative discovery and mutual enjoyment and sexual tension and actual sex and all that good stuff. That is a fairly significant flaw.
As a bonus, I put some estimated scene lengths on the timeline and realized they don't even meet until 15–20k words into the book. That seems like a lot for a romance novel. I love their individual backstories (and their individual backstories are 8k words of the 13k I've written already, which is a whole lot of darling to kill and/or turn into bonus material) but I don't think most romance readers are going to stick around that long waiting for them to actually meet each other and get the juices flowing. So unless I plan to try to escape the confines of the romance genre altogether—which I really don't—I need to stop putting all this work into establishing them and instead start in medias res as far as their personal stories are concerned. It's good for me to know how Nathaniel meets Miss Waters and starts working at the bookshop; it's good for me to know that Henry and Sarah (which is not going to be her name but I haven't found the right name for her yet) became friends when she was seasick and he read to her. But the reader doesn't need to know any of that right up front or maybe ever.
I think a lot of this is feeling like I need to justify and explain my characters' existences as queer and trans people, one of whom is a nonwhite immigrant, in a historical setting. And it is valuable to write their backstories in detail so that I feel grounded enough in their realities to assert that yep, this is who they are, this is how they are, this is what their communities look like, and you, dear reader, just need to accept that. I'm also identifying the points where I need to know more about the characters and where they're coming from. But that's for me.
Eight thousand goddamn words written just for me. Oh well. And honestly, it's working well enough that I might keep doing it, maybe even to the point of 20k words or more. If this is my process, this is my absurd inefficient process.
On the bright side, cutting that 20k off the wordcount means there's lots more room for me to write the relationship elements that are currently totally absent from the narrative. Excuse me while I facepalm forever.
And now the second load of laundry is done and I get to go to bed at only 3:30 a.m.! So early! Maybe I'll sleep well for the third night in a row! I sure hope so, because tomorrow's workload is looking pretty intense and it'd be nice to have both time and brains for it.