Whatever Happened?

By: Sara Cleveland

Many of you are probably wondering whatever happened to Courting the Dragon, my sophomore novel that was supposed to go on sale last December.

Presently, it is a quasi-finished draft in my Dropbox, waiting for me to crack open a word processor and finally get to the serious business of revising it, as I should have done months and months ago–but still have not.


Last November, whilst I was in the midst of NaNoWriMo and working on cleaning up CtD’s draft, my husband left. It was shocking at the time, although it really should not have been for a whole host of reasons. The first two days afterwards can be best described as one big, long anxiety attack followed by a week of numbness in which I wrote exactly one scene for my NaNo project, The Foundling. And that was it. I haven’t really written a word since, unless you count countless text messages and work emails.


For many writers pain is a driving force for their art. A spur for their writing. Their writing gives them an outlet for their anger, their grief. I don’t want to say that that isn’t true for me. In some ways The Foundling’s roots are in some of my own feelings. (Those who know me and the subject matter of that project are probably scratching their heads trying to figure that one out). However, for me it seems that the act of writing tends to be more of a reflection on feelings already processed than the actual act of processing them. When in the midst of something overwhelming, the words just… bottle up.

Side note: I think I wrote the world’s worst poetry right after my dad died. To those who were taking poetry class with me in high school at the time, I apologize.

But, my writerly constipation aside, there’s also the subject matter of the book in question. The book is literally about marriage and events leading up to multiple weddings. Sorry, not sorry for the spoiler there, but I mean, it’s in the title. Call me crazy, but my characters suddenly became completely unrelatable to me there for a few weeks. Here I am, my marriage crashing down around my ears, trying to write about a couple defying magic, politics, parental disapproval, evil villains and a whole bunch of other crap just so they can be together (oh, okay, and save the kingdom, too, I suppose).

Even after the initial shock wore off about a week and a half later, the facts about the plot stated above made even looking at the draft uncomfortable. It felt fraudulent on my part.

Now, in January, as the time to finally sign the divorce papers is drawing near, I think I’m finally ready to put fingers to keyboard again. I’ve had time to reflect on why that particular relationship went south and to recognize that it was over long before he walked out that door. And I say that with no malice to my ex-husband. It was a relationship built on the wrong things that made us into people we neither recognized nor liked very much.

But, with that understanding, I think I now understand why Salarath and Penelope’s relationship will work. Funny how that happens, right? From my own mistakes and my own growth I now feel equipped to grow my characters into the people they need to be for each other. So, with that in mind, I will begin working on CtD again with ambitions to have it completed and on sale this summer. It is going to take some time and some heavy revising, but I think it will be a better story for all the time it has spent waiting for me to grow up a little more.

Adulting is hard.