Thirty-one chapters rewritten and accounted for
It took an entire year.
In not even counting the two months where I purposely did no writing at all, it took an entire year to write the second draft of my historical fiction novel-in-progress, which amounted to a complete rewrite of my first draft.
It took longer to write than the first draft itself, which I completed in 10 months back in in 2005.
My first draft chapters, bottom to top, colour coded by their revision needs
It was like grading the world’s longest midterm paper.
Coming in at 402 pages and with all but the last two chapters having been written some ten years ago, I really had no idea what I was in for when, upon completing my first novel ever (technically my first trilogy, but I count it as one completed story), the time came to read through the entire first draft.
The age of the thing alone terrified me, for how well could a ten-year-old story possibly hold up? I already knew going in that I’d have a fair amount of rewriting ahead of me, but the question was how much?
No, I’m still not finished my WIP.
But honest to goodness, this last novel in my historical fiction trilogy is truly almost done. I know I’ve written about being close before, but now I’m really close. Like, a two-digit number of pages remaining that starts with 2 (or maybe even one!) close.
When last I wrote about my WIP’s impending end, I discussed various insights that had occurred to me as I continued along this process.
Well, a new level of nearness to the end has engendered an all new set of realizations:
I should qualify this by saying I mean the end of my novel.
(Were I talking the end of my life, my thoughts would be considerably different, and if nothing else, I’d perhaps be referring back to this post about my bucket list.)
Ending a novel is hard. The fact that I’ve done it twice thus far in my writing career hasn’t made it any easier. Perhaps this is because only once did I consciously do so since my “two-book” series-in-progress grew to three books initially without my realizing it.
The Dark Angel Design Company, photography by Lunaesque
Time to talk about my WIP again!
I never used to do this at all, as the thought of giving the dreaded “elevator pitch” makes my stomach churn like too much greasy pizza too close to bedtime.
But like anything bearing the label “dreaded”, said dread is usually lessened over time through devoting regular thought and effort to improving at the task at hand.
In other words, I need to practice pitching and promoting myself more.
Which is why, when tagged by my blog-buddy Eric J. Baker, to answer four questions about my WIP as part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, and I agreed to participate.
The four questions are thus as follows:
Writing a novel is one of the scariest things I’ve ever attempted.
And I’ve done some scary things in my life:
- I’ve moved to two different provinces on my own, both times having no prior friends or family present when I arrived.
- I’ve come face-to-face with a bull moose during rutting season.
- I’ve spend 24 straight hours in the woods on a fasting solo sit. (The fear in this isn’t possible animal encounters at night, but rather the act of sitting silently for hours with nothing to distract you but your own thoughts.)
- I’ve risked – and received – rejection asking guys way out of my league out on dates.
Just to name a few. As my father is fond of paraphrasing from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “The brave will only die once.”
This past week, I reached another milestone in my novel-in-progress:
Except it’s not really my 200th page, for my story is a novel in two volumes (like how Lord of the Rings is actually a novel in three volumes rather than the trilogy it’s often erroneously termed). The first volume of the story in draft form is 377 pages.
That means I’m technically on page 577.
The past two months has seen me achieve a number of writing milestones: my current page number; my one-year blogging anniversary on February 20; my writer’s birthday (which I actually missed) on February 10.
I’m now a five-year-old writer.
A Distractions & Subtractions post
So, I have this sort of condition….
It’s nothing overly serious – nothing requiring medical treatment or that’s even been officially diagnosed. More than anything, it makes for something of an odd party trick in response to yet another game folks may play at a party.
The blindfolded, guess-what-food-I’ve-just-put-in-your-mouth game.
Yes, this does, indeed, relate to writing. Everything does with me, dontcha know?
I make a point of recording certain milestones while at work on my novel-in-progress.
I do so to track when I reach certain parts of the novel, both to measure the consistency of my output and for reminiscence. I also do it to encourage further progress and the achievement of additional milestones.
The specific milestones I’ve chosen to observe are as follows:
- Page 50 of the novel
- Page 100 of the novel
- Every page that is a multiple of 100
- The approximate midpoint of the novel
- The end of every chapter
Currently in my novel, I’m about five words away from rolling over onto page 100. I’m also about half a page away from the end of a chapter. One might suppose I’m feverishly working away on achieving two milestones within such a short space of each other.
But I’m not.
Instead, I’m rather preoccupied with another pursuit.
Once I finish with this one, I’ll gladly return to writing. In the meantime, though, I find myself on the edge of something else that’s wonderful.
Related post: No Better Place (for Writing)