This weekend I finished the draft of the work in progress. I’ve been sitting on it a bit to let my brain move out of post-novel haze and to give myself a bit of space to focus. After which, the draft will go to my beta readers, some of whom I’m reliably informed are drooling at the prospect.
It’s a nice feeling. The draft took me about two and a half months, with very few dead days where no writing happened, and even fewer days where there was no writing and no world-building or research. So I guess if everything went well I could finish a novel in two months.
Not that I plan to. I do have a job, and said job is important to us being able to pay the bills each month.
I honestly don’t know what really pushed this though so quickly, but I do know what helped: I tried to write something every day. I didn’t always succeed, but on weeknights I aimed for around 500 words and if more happened so much the better, but if there wasn’t that much, well, at least I’d written something. Or I’d added something I needed to the file that has all the behind-the-scenes world-building stuff. Or dug up the Very Important Piece of information I needed to make the story work. Or – in at least one case – I’d checked with my sources that where I thought the plot was going to go was realistic enough that it wouldn’t cause the book to have sudden flying lessons. That generated a fair number of words in chat windows that were needed to solidify the plot, without adding anything to the book.
All of this counts as progress. If it’s not the actual piece, it’s the structure behind it which a good author makes invisible because the flow of the story is what’s paramount. It’s why when you go looking at the work of authors like Pratchett, or our very own Dave Freer (who is criminally underappreciated. Go ye forth and buy his books), or… Well, quite a few of the Mad Genius cohort, actually. Anyway, it’s why when you look closer you can see that there’s a lot of layering and shading of meaning built into the works, but when you’re reading them it all flows seamlessly into an experience where you stop being you and become the characters. Or the world (I defy anyone to tell me the Discworld, Ankh-Morpork, Lancre and the like are not characters. I will laugh at you). I only hope I can be that good one day.
This is an aspect of reading I suspect some don’t understand. Every Pratchett book I own has been read at least three times. Some more. And every Pratchett book I own reveals more every time I reread it. So do Dave’s books. And Sarah’s. Usually what they reveal is a deeper understanding of how people work, although there can be some chilling commentary on political malfeasance or corruption as well (and how people who are otherwise quite decent people can wind up supporting appalling things). And that’s without the little nuggets of weird fact I’ve found buried in them. Things like the French optical telegraph system that Pratchett recast as the Clacks. Or the quirkiness of the various deities Dave played with in the Pyramid Scheme books. Or…
You get the picture. Maybe I’ll be able to do that someday.
Until then, I hope to keep practicing, preferably without the lengthy period of “OMGWTFBBQNoCanHasWriting” that preceded the latest work. Because I enjoy being able to sit at the computer and have usable verbiage happen. And I really enjoy that lovely feeling of having accomplished something.