Looking back at my last post, I realize now that I chose a poor place to leave my blog hanging. I could have at least written, drums, drums in the deep. They are coming. Or perhaps in the Castle of Aaargh! But at the time I had other concerns, and so I wrote… nothing. At least not on the blog. I wrote many, many other things elsewhere, though. 50,060 of them, to be precise.
It was NaNoWriMo 2016, and I was on pace to my goal of adding 50,000 words to Warden of the Lost Way. That I was successful is, I think, justification for having not drafted a blog post that month.
Though I didn’t finish the book, (which, I’ll admit, rendered my victory somewhat anticlimactic) I still think it was well worth doing. The exercise taught me that I could write every day and keep to a deadline, even an artificial one. And most importantly, it moved me 50,000 words farther towards my ultimate goal.
Fast forward to May 2017, and my first draft of Warden of the Lost Way was finally complete, and what a monster it had become. Over half a million words. I knew it was getting out of control, even as I wrote it. Yet I, ever the enabler, kept feeding words to the beast. The story is the story, I told myself. Let it be what it needs to be and deal with taming it later.
And so I did.
I began revisions in early July, with the stated goal of achieving ‘Continuity & Clarity’. The reason being, much of the book was a hot mess. My ‘first’ chapter evolved into its final form as chapter 15. I had changed character viewpoint from first to third person partway through Part One. In Part Two I decided a significant character had actually died in Part One and didn’t bother to go back to let him know. Sorry chum, you’re roast meat for worms. Had anyone ventured to read this ‘book’ at that embryonic stage they would have thrown it into the first convenient wood chipper.
And so I plunged back in, correcting, revising and rewriting, and in some cases just plain writing, crafting new paragraphs or even scenes where they were needed to provided the Continuity & Clarity I was looking for. More fodder for the beast. Feed me Seymour!
The word count grew. 520k. 530k. 535k words.
It took over seven months.
It might have taken less time, if not for that pesky real life poking its nose into things, but in the end, I can finally say, it is finished.
Okay, I’ll say it. It is finished.
Well, except for the epilogue. And the successive rounds of edits. And perhaps a few new scenes, especially if the book undergoes a sort of mitosis, splitting from one book into two, or even three. It might.
But it’s a real thing! An honest to goodness real story that another human being could pick up and process and comprehend, a thing conceived in my grey matter and thence conveyed into someone else’s. And that, I think, is astonishing. Its magic. Writing is telepathy and time-travel all in one.
So that leaves me here. I have written a book, and now I teeter on the precipice between its long gestation and its ultimate birth. I’m in labour, it would seem. But I go into it with anticipation, a degree of confidence, for I have had some trusted professionals look in on this draft, and they have deemed it free from major complications. (Did I just compare Beta Readers to Medical Sonographers? Yeah, I guess I did.) In fact, the early results look promising. But, like childbirth, its going to be a lot of work to get this baby out into the world and all grown up.
Time to start pushing.
A word to all mothers who might be reading; my birth metaphor is but a scribbler’s bit of fancy. Having twice witnessed the full cycle of childbirth, I can unequivocally state that writing a book is a far easier, less painful, and infinitely less rewarding exercise. To my wife, my Mom, and mothers everywhere, I salute you.