The good news is, I have been keeping at it and spending much of my free time (re)writing. AQATWA is getting done. I've even started roughly outlining book six.
The bad news is, I've hit the hard part. Until now most of my rewriting was relatively minor, nothing that required major revisions in the story. But then I realized I had to make some significant changes which rippled backwards across many chapters, and then I had an idea, which resulted in more changes. Meanwhile, I have hit a plot hole resulting from my reread of the previous books, and that's going to require a major rewrite of at least one chapter and maybe more. I'll figure out a solution eventually, but today I spent a lot of time staring at my screen grinding my teeth, trying to figure out which of my babies to kill.
My last update fostered debate and discussion! I don't have anything as thought-provoking to share this time around, but I do want to share some fan art. This is some of my favorite fan art of Alex ever:
The way Amnevita (who also did this wonderful Thorn family lineup a few years ago) ages Alexandra each year and captures her changing moods is just wonderful. (Alex really is rather dour more often than not, isn't she?)
A lot of people have drawn Alexandra and her friends over the years, and I collect and save every piece I find. (Most people tell me when they've drawn something for me, or they post it where they know I will see it, but now and then I've stumbled upon something on DeviantArt or Tumblr and said "Wow! I had no idea this existed!" So hey — if you draw some Alexandra Quick fan art, please tell me!)
Some pictures come very close to the image I have in my head of my characters, but none are ever quite perfect. This is particularly a challenge when I commission artwork — in that case, I am paying someone to draw exactly what I want, and while I give as much detail as possible, it's simply impossible to transmit an image directly from my head to someone else's, so while I've generally been very happy with the results, I've had to accept that it will always be the artist's interpretation of what I described for them. Of course if I could draw myself, I might get closer to what I want, but I long ago gave up on improving my own drawing ability. The Poser images I created for previous books did manage to get close to my mental image with some of the characters, but are still no more perfect than illustrations done by others.
I know J.K. Rowling has said that the same thing is true for her characters — she liked the actors who played them, and she liked Mary GrandPré's illustrations in the books, but none of them exactly matched the pictures she had in her head of Harry and Hermione and Ron.
But if the writer could put the exact image in his or head on a screen, that wouldn't leave much room for creative interpretation, or for others to imagine the character differently, would it? Which is why I am always delighted to see fan art, even when the interpretation is quite different from what I imagined, because the character is still always recognizable, and I get a little glimpse of what sort of picture my words created in someone else's head.