A Long Journey, Finally Finished

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WHEW. I just sent off my final proofreading notes on Congress of Secrets. They’ll be amended in the typeset manuscript, which will then be sent to print by Pyr Books this week…

…So in other words, I am really and truly done with this book. That is always a huge moment with each new book, exciting and scary both at once. This is it! There’s no more work to be done – and no more changes that can be made either. It’s finished!

And it’s an even bigger moment this time round, because – I just went back to my notes to check this date – I first began writing Congress of Secrets on July 7, 2005. That’s just over 11 years ago! I finished the first draft on April 6, 2006, did a few rounds of preliminary revision to it (in-between other projects, a dayjob, and big life events) that finished on July 27, 2007…

…and then I stopped. I set the book aside.

I knew it wasn’t right yet. It wasn’t ready to be published…and I wasn’t ready to deal with that in any way.

I wasn’t ready as a writer, because I was still at the stage where I could look at the draft I had and think “This isn’t right”…but I wasn’t experienced enough yet to know how to pin that wrongness down, or how to fix it.

More than that, though, I wasn’t ready as a person. Congress of Secrets is the most romantic book I’ve ever written, but it’s also the darkest book I’ve ever written, and in 2007, I was at a stage where I couldn’t cope with that darkness in my writing at all. I’d just been diagnosed with M.E./CFS, and I’d had to give up my dayjob because of it. I had no financial prospects; I was terrified about what the rest of my life was going to look like…in other words, I was struggling with more than enough darkness in my own life. I couldn’t deal with it in my writing, too.

I needed lightness. I needed fun. I needed an escape. I needed Kat, Incorrigible, and I’m so glad that I chose to focus on Kat and her family at that point. It was exactly the right decision for that moment.

I needed all these extra years in-between to grow as an author – to know how to take this book to the next level that it needed – and to grow as a person, too, who can manage her own darkness.

I’m so glad I’ve come back to Caroline and her darkness and her survivor-strength now…and to her unexpected romance, too! (My favorite quote from yesterday’s proofreading session: “Thank God for well-timed distractions from useless feelings.” 😉 The romance in this book is between two very cynical people, it arrives much to the shock of both of them, interfering with both of their plans, and it was SO MUCH fun for me to write it!)

There’s plenty of fun in this book as well as darkness, of course – it’s a thriller set in 1814 Vienna, with the royalty and aristocracy of Europe all gathered together and scheming all over the place. There was SO MUCH deliciousness to work with in that setting! I have absolutely loved re-immersing myself in it, and in my characters. Caroline and Michael are two of my favorite characters I’ve ever written – both super-smart, super-competent survivors with deep (and extremely well-hidden) vulnerabilities and a flair for wicked banter.

But now I really am done.

congress-of-secrets-by-stephanie-burgis

As I finished re-reading Congress of Secrets today, I let out a sigh of bittersweet satisfaction.

It’s finally time to let this book go. I hope you guys enjoy it when it comes out on November 1st!

It’s been a long journey, but I’m so glad to finally be here.

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