I finished Book 6 which is now *cough* Book 5. I’m very happy with the ending of the book, but after already experiencing the high of writing the series finale, it felt a little anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the first draft of the full series (6 books) is in now complete. It’s kind of luxurious to see the story from start to finish. I plan to start work on the 2nd Drafts early this year.
I was kind of at a loss what to do immediately after I finished so I toyed about with a short story about alien invasion. This has turned into three stories and more will possibly be added. I have no outline for them. I find that if I know the ending it’s relatively easy to put the rest together. But sometimes, I don’t know the ending or rather I have two diametrically opposite endings that both will fit the story. I don’t know which one until I finish. This sort of story is the most exciting for me to write. It’s like I am reading the story for the first time as I write it.
Overall, in 2019, I wrote 209k words, comprising mostly of the first drafts of three novels. That beats the previous year by about 25k words. I missed writing only ten days in the year. My philosophy is to be honest with myself and not to overly worry about streaks and so on. I write whenever I can but sometimes life intrudes and I have to accept I can’t. On the other hand, there are days when I have the time but not the inclination. On those days, I grit my teeth and write; I write my quota clinging onto every squeezed out word for dear life. It’s amazing what can be achieved in little steps. I have to say having Scrivener on my phone made a huge difference to my productivity.
I plan to achieve the same rough word count this year (ca 183k words or roughly 500 words per day for the entire year). I also plan to start overhauling those first drafts. I am approaching the first book of the series with excitement. I’ll probably end up changing every word I wrote, but, as I remember it, the backbone of the story should hold up pretty well.
I also published Alienity this year, finishing out four short stories. I plan to publish more as I finish them.
I published Alienity back at the end of July. The process of publishing went very smoothly as did the preparation of the paperback using Vellum. I’m not going to publish the paperback for a while until I have more paperbacks ready for publishing. In Ireland, copies have to be sent to the British Library, three other Libraries in the UK if they request them within a year, to Trinity College and several other university libraries across Ireland so the exercise can get pretty expensive.
I am very happy with the stories themselves, particularly The Chosen One. I wrote it from scratch three times from different perspectives, but it clicked together over the summer. I wrote my favorite line ever as part of the edit. I had an ending in my mind from the start, came to dislike it, sought something different, but in the end I gave the story the honest ending it deserved. The tension really adds to the story.
For me, publishing can be a type of release. These stories no longer flutter about the inside of my head, distracting me, demanding my attention, taunting me with their ephemerality. Now that they are released into the wild, my debt to them has been paid and I am finally free of them.
The other bit of news is I finished the first draft of Book Five of my five book fantasy series following on from my short story No Escape. It was really exciting to write those last couple of chapters. They had played out in my mind for so long. It’s the (first draft) culmination of a long writing journey (eighteen months). There was only one small problem. There were several threads left dangling that didn’t fit into the main arc but demanded on being brought to a proper conclusion. I think a reader will might feel cheated if I don’t resolve them so I am working a sixth book. This will actually be the fifth book in the series. The full first draft of this should be done by Christmas and then work on the second draft of the whole series will begin.
If you squint really hard you can possibly see me tottering at the top of that tower of books. I had a very busy first four months of the year. I finished the first draft of the Book 4 in the series about a week ahead of schedule. It came in about 62k words and was the probably the easiest to write since Book 1. I’m confident of finishing Book 5 by the scheduled date. I’m really looking forward to revealing the main villain. It is my concept of him that really transformed a standalone short story into the prequel of a five book series.
However, perhaps of more immediate interest, I am going publish a bundle of four short SF stories that I recently finished. It’s been a while since I published anything so I am really looking forward to releasing them. They range from humorous to quite dark, but they all center around aliens in some way. More detail to follow on the very near future.
Finishing the 2nd draft of novel codenamed Spaghetti 1 at about 70k words, I immediately started on the 3rd draft. This draft will work through the detail of the story. I have the skeleton but it needs to be fleshed out in a lot of places. The organs are there, but some are too small or too big or in the wrong place.
This draft is also about making decisions. I must expunge the narrative scars of ideas that went nowhere. The 2nd draft had a level of ambiguity. For example, two mutually exclusive ideas might have been allow to coexist, I have to now choose, one way or the other. Where there are conundrums in the narrative, I have to solve them as I go along, even if it means taking a few steps backward at times. And of course, any decision can set off an avalanche of new ones. And new ideas are coming, better ideas than before, that must be accommodated in the story as if they had always been part of it.
And every detail needs to be carefully indexed so I don’t have to wade through pages of text later, getting that horrible drowning feeling, to confirm I’m not contradicting myself. From dress to character, from motive to tea preference, everything must be made consistent.
It’s slow. It can be tedious. But is it worth it? Yes. It’s fantastic to see the story take shape, the characters come alive, and the blur come into focus.
January has arrived so it’s time to review 2016 and look forward to what’s coming up this year. Last year struck me as a very long year, probably the longest year of my life. Much was achieved. I published the second part of the Golden Rule Duology, The Unconquered Sun, last February. I also published two short stories, The Fate Healer and The Murder Seat. A third short story, No Escape, will be released on all platforms at some stage next week. (I can’t give an exact date due to the complexity of working through aggregators and so on.)
Of course, the published works are but the visible part of my writing endeavours. I wrote 1st drafts of four novels last year. My primary goal this year is to publish the first of these, codenamed somewhat ludicrously Spaghetti 1. Of course means it will have to reach a publishable standard. I should have the 2nd draft completed in the next three weeks.
The 2nd draft in many ways is harder than the first, because the blurry half-ideas that drifted in and out of the story on a sporadic stream of consciousness have to be sorted, graded, tossed aside where found to be utter rubbish, polished, and pinned to a cohesive structure. Of course, there are whole sections where the 2nd draft really is another 1st draft.
However, at this stage, I feel comfortable saying that the 2nd draft is a massive improvement on the 1st draft. It still needs a lot of work before it’s even ready for beta reading. I want to make it as good as I can before I submit it to the critical eyes of others. There’s no point ignoring your own intuition on plot holes only for these issues to become the focus of others’ critiques. I can’t remember any time where I doubted about a certain issue where that doubt wasn’t later proven to be justified. I want the beta readers to tell me I’m wrong in new and surprising ways!
The Burren Tolkien Society is holding their second festival from 15th to 24th of August 2014. They will be having lectures, debates, readings (including one at the Poll na gColm cave system), guided tours of the Burren, and lots of other events, so if you are in the area you might like to check it out. More details of events and Tolkien’s association with the Burren can be found at http://www.burrentolkiensociety.ie/.