All cheers to Kat Tanaka Okopnik, who talked me down from a surprisingly panicked state. So this is what happened:
At the end of January, I sat down with Kat and Amanda for a two hour-long brainstorming session in which we figured out all kinds of plot points and character arcs and basically everything that mattered about my novel. They were invaluable in helping me poke holes in ideas, brainstorm others, etc. All good, right? We took notes on index cards, and then I put them up in my office so the kids wouldn’t get them.
Then I had to draft my Tremontaine chapter, which ate my brain for a week, but that was fine. Switching gears from space opera to fantasy, no problem. But then I finished, and then I went to FogCon, and then I went to ICFA, and then I got sick at ICFA, and it was just a cold, but it was the cold from hell, the cold that went on for five solid weeks and gave me a fever of 102 and a cough that severely compromised my sleep, and then hey, it was time to do the Tremontaine chapter edits, and I might have worked on a few essays in there, and all in all, ten weeks passed from those index cards.
Which I finally hauled out today to transcribe them — and found them ALMOST UNINTELLIGIBLE. They were total shorthand, and I had forgotten to write down all kinds of incredibly important things. I had no idea why anyone did anything or what they were trying to accomplish. And I have to tell you people, I just panicked. The thought of all that work just disappearing into the aether, the fear that I wouldn’t be able to recreate it, that all the lovely solutions we’d come up with were just gone…
So I pinged Kat, and asked if she could spare fifteen minutes tonight to stop by and look at my notes and see if she remembered anything more. And she came over, and she read them over, and then we started talking, and an hour and fifteen minutes later (see how I snuck that extra hour in there when she wasn’t looking?), I think we have not only recreated all the lost material, but have even, possibly, figured out an ever better solution for a critical segment of it. Woohoo!
I am now dazed and tired enough that I’m going to put it aside for the night, and I probably need to run it by a couple of people in the next few days to make sure it all actually makes sense. But I’m now calm enough that I think I *can* sleep. So yay, Kat. If you need a developmental editor to help you think through plot and character problems, you might want to drop her a line. She’s really good at it.
(You might have to pay her in cash, though. Luckily, I have curry. It’s the coin of the realm around here.)