Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Reduction of the Steaming Pile of Words

In a flurry of activity, the second draft began: powering through thepages; words culled left, right and centre; word count dropping fast.

Or not.

Since I completed the first draft to my novel, not a lot has happened. I managed to detail all my chapters on index cards, allowing me to see the whole picture and easily make changes here and there. I'm finding it very useful, but unfortunately, it's not a lot to show for almost a month's work.

Why the slow down in productivity, especially with late July fast approaching? Work. The full time paid variety. Yes, that old chestnut. Yesterday was the first day in a fortnight I've actually sat down at my computer. My day job has become my night job as well. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either. Things have quietened down now, so I will be taking a week off in mid-May to play catch up - a game I've mastered over the years.

The first task for Draft Numero Deux is to reduce that big steaming pile of words you see there on your right under "Noise Reduction." Two hundred and seventy words is just too much (you think?!). So a culling we shall go. Watch with intense concentration and wild glee as that figure reduces over the next month - bottoming out, hopefully, at 160,000 words.

If I can't get the word count down, I will instead release two books - Steaming Pile of Words - Part One and Steaming Pile of Words - Part Two. If it worked for Steven Soderbergh, it can work for . . . oh wait.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Feel A Draft

I announced it a few weeks ago on Facebook: I've finished the first draft of my book.

It was a great feeling, typing "The End" into my manuscript; a feeling of achievement and satisfaction. Two and a half years ago I began writing this behemoth of a novel; two and a half years of intermittent writing, frustration with mediocre volumes of output, and moments of brilliance and clarity. From a germ of an idea formed in the early morning hours to typing those two words: it has been a long journey.

It's never just been about proving to myself that I can do it though, my ambitions extend beyond that, but completing the first draft has always been a major goal, appearing insurmountable at times, but, deep down, always achievable.

And I've done it. And I'm happy with the result.

My goal is still to have a finished product (fit for submission to agencies) by the Harrogate Festival in late July; a deadline fast approaching. The achievement of completing the first draft is already a distant memory, but as I wade through the second draft, it's still a memory that energises me each day I sit down at my computer.

I'm not naive enough, though, to not know that completing the first draft is only the half of it: draft after draft, alteration after alteration, the dreaded first read by someone other than yourself, and the mountain to climb towards publication, constitutes the hard work ahead of me. Hard work ahead and the continuing rollercoaster ride of emotion that every writer goes through.

Ultimately, there will be a great feeling of satisfaction and jubilation when the final draft is done and sent off to my chosen agents, but it will never match the pure joy and feeling of accomplishment, devoid of the anxiety of failure or critique, that is felt when those two words are written for the first time.

Something to savour for a long time.