Monday, June 21, 2010

Tipping Point of No Return To Sender

Saturday night I was typing my handwritten MS up into the Master Word Document(tm) and I found that I'd passed the 35K word mark. Seeing that I was this far along in the book came as a relief, and I looked at my notes for the rest of the story and realized that I do actually have something book-length on my hands. That's always a worry for me in first drafts; I haven't yet had to struggle to make something long enough to be publishable, but there's always the fear that I'm just stretching out a short story or that the ideas I'm working with will play themselves out too quickly.

Writing a book is a pretty serious commitment, at least for me, and while I'm working out some useful methods as I get more novels behind me (the current WIP is novel number four), I am also finding that I have the same fears while writing every novel. The primary fear is that I won't be able to finish the first draft. Not only do I worry that the idea isn't "big" enough, but I worry that I'll simply run out of energy or let the difficulty of the task overwhelm me and I'll fall out of the habit of writing and simply never get to the end.

I am past that particular fear with this draft, because even though I'm not at the halfway mark (I am looking for this to be around 90,000 words long), I know that I've got enough material planned and I also know that the middle section of the book is going to be a lot of fun to write and will go pretty quickly and will be cool and awesome so I am rather itching to get moving with it. The third act, the climaxes of all the various story strands, will be straightforward enough and so what all this means is that even though I'm not quite halfway through this first draft, I feel like I'm already on the downhill side of things, and that is an excellent place to be.

Of course I still have all the other fears that go along with writing a novel: fear that the basic idea is stupid; fear that the basic idea is a good idea but I will give it a stupid treatment; fear that my writing is simply awful at the sentence level; fear that nobody will like the book, etc. I get around those fears by convincing myself that the events in the book are actual historical facts, and I'm just writing them down. Subjectivity has no role in mere reportage. I'm only saying what happened, not showing off my creativity. I have tremendous powers of self delusion, you know.

Anyway, my target for finishing this draft is around the end of August. We'll see how that works out.


  1. Says in Rob Schneider voice: "You can do it!"

    Always great to cross that threshhold. Keep at it sir.

  2. I'm ROFL at Mayowa's comment. Love Rob Schneider and here in my family we say "You can do it!" all the time, but always in Rob's voice, lol.

    Okay, back to the item at hand. YOU CAN DO IT!!

    I can totally relate to all your fears - I think they're a writer's trademark.

  3. Yeah, we writers all tend to have those fears.

    Yet you seem to have a new chapter written every time I look! Way to keep on moving forward.

  4. It's all about staying in the writerly rhythm, I think. As long as I write a little every day (or most days, at least) I can keep my momentum going. Today at lunch I wrote an outline for Chapter 11 and then wrote the first couple hundred words. I know how the chapter ends, so I have a clear goal so it's easy to keep pushing forward.

    The cool thing about this chapter: a ghost sighting!

    I had to Google Rob Schneider.

  5. I have these same fears, Scott. It was strange to write a novella because I kept thinking it had to be longer and more complex and I still worry that it's just too simple - but that's the point. I need to start deluding myself.

    Yay for 35k! Think how great it will feel at 50k!