Despite the title of this post, I'm not writing about Our Mutual Friend except to say that I expect to finish the novel this weekend. Dickens has led me to believe that there will be violence before things end; I hope I'm not disappointed.
No, I'm moved to write this post because today at lunch I wrote a one-page outline of the remains of my novel-in-progress. It seemed like a daunting task, figuring out what I'd do for 35,000 more words, until I realized that I only have seven (7) more chapters to write. I can figure out what to do in a chapter, and I can do that seven times in a row, right? It also simplified things when I remembered that this book alternates chapters between the points of view of the two main characters, which means that I have three more "David" chapters and four more "Catherine" chapters to write. Coming up with a 3-chapter outline for him and a 4-chapter outline for her wasn't that difficult. Making sure that they flow correctly in time as they alternate was also not a problem.
So job done, and well done me. I'll have to go through my growing stack of notes and make sure I haven't forgotten anything important I'd planned to work into the second half of this book, but otherwise I feel pretty confident that I know what I'll be writing as I go forward. Also, having a chapter-by-chapter outline, even if it's only one or two sentences per chapter, should let me write fairly quickly. Maybe I will have this first draft finished by midsummer. It could happen.
The next book I read will be Chekhov, more short stories. I won't be reading anything hefty until after I finish this damned draft. But when I do, I'm thinking it'll be The Brothers Karamatzov, which I've never managed to finish. I do believe that 2012 could be the year. Until Mr Dostoyevski and I face off, it'll all be shorter novels and short stories, damn it. Mr Dickens has taken too much of my concentration.