About 5 years ago I decided to have a go at that thing where you spend November writing a novel. I got about 20,000 words done on it at the time which i periodically worked on for the next year. I had the plot, I had the characters, I knew most of it. I’ve pretty much thought of it almost daily since I started it, what I really wanted was for it to be done.
BTW the pictures in this post are somewhat unrelated. But this is an art blog so I thought I would pepper it with random stuff I’ve not put anywhere else in this blog.
I’d actually written and completed a novel a few years ago. I started it in 1995 when I was out of uni and horribly unemployed due to the recession and the fact that I had a totally worthless degree in Biology, and I finished it in 2007 when I was working for the Bank and they didn’t have enough work for me due to delays in delivery – so I sat and worked on it for hours a day for about 5 weeks (my management were only grateful that I wasn’t pestering them for work they did not have to give me). I decided back then to write a romance novel, everyone seemed at the time I started to think they were ‘easy’ and you just ‘followed a script’ and for some reason it was easy to believe that, so off i went.. The next person who tells me this, I’m going to ask them what the hell drugs they are on to think such a thing. How offensive is that to anyone who has actually suffered the pain of writing a romance novel! You still have to have character, plot, and actually WRITE the thing! If I had Rita Skeeta’s Quickquill pen, maybe, but those things don’t exist.
I completed the romance novel many years later. It’s called “The Stanleigh Rose” and it’s set in around the 1880s, on an estate in Oxfordshire (like I’ve ever been there! hah). I’ve been unable to find a publisher for it, not because it’s bad (it’s not!), but because I didn’t make it light and action filled enough and it’s non linear and there is lots of description and not enough action. It’s an odd hybrid between literature and romance and comedy and romance publishers have all said ‘not really right for us’. Somewhere there will be someone who publishes literary romance, I just need to find them. The main problem really is that I cannot abide romance novels (WHY DID I WRITE ONE!) and I’d only read one or two, so I really didn’t know how to write one, and I wrote the sort of thing I wanted to write.
I did at the time do a bit of a run around my friends to find the worst possible wanky name for the main dude in the book. Hence his name is Manfred. 🙂
So I know the amount of work that a book entailed. I wrote the basic plot for my current book in a month, and then I worked periodically on and off it for years, but spent no time on it at all in this current year (shock to see the last modified date of feb 2013 when I cranked it out in April!)
I decided last year that I should take time off (paid) work this year and try and finish it. My problem really has been that I go to do paid work four days a week – and that is often very intense work – I come home worm out and intellectually bankrupt, plus my second job is really being an artist. Then you have to fit in relationships, fitness, and other hobbies or interests around those things. And sleep. NICE SLEEP, NEED THAT. I cannot squeeze in the writing without squeezing out the art and I don’t want to do that. Also if I spend a work day sitting in front of a computer, then I don’t want to try and relax at home by sitting in front of a screen. For the same reason I’ve never wanted to learn how to do any photo-shopping or art via computer. It makes me twitchy to spend too long at a screen
Fate stepped in unexpectedly – my workplace gives you a few weeks of Long Service Leave after 5 years, so I suddenly had a chunk of leave I could take, just sitting there. It was unexpected and I thought for a while I’d just accumulate it and use it for a future holiday – and then I went: WAIT! I can use this to write! It helped the decision that I’ve frankly done too many trips overseas in the past five years (one a year) and I really can’t face another foray into airports and travel – so i could take time off to write and finish the thing! I’m on a project that is also going to be amping up from about May onwards and rushing through to a finale in November – so there was no chance at all that I could get leave any later.
Management agreed it was a good time to take it, and so I did. 4.5 weeks off (the longest I’ve not been at work since I was made redundant in 2005) and that time to do things like finish painting the outside of the house (it’s freshly purple!), do various chores, try not to be so tired all the time (another post on this will be coming soon, that has been another issue) and writing.
Which is what I’ve been doing. Since just before easter (2.5 weeks ago) I have been working on my novel between 1 and 5 hours a day. I keep discovering bits where I’ve written in “must expand this section, don’t know how” and stuff, and I’ve been doing that, as well as making the thing flow clearly and much better than it was when I only worked on sections of it in chunks. I’d already done two full edits of it over the years so this was to be the third.
So the ‘new’ novel is very me and I’ve made no concessions to anyone. It’s how I want to write and if I go off on rants and pages of explanation – well that is the sort of novel I like to read, so it turned out to be the sort of novel I also like to write.(I did a list of my top 100 favorite novels here, so you can see what I like to read. I read a LOT) It’s set in first person perspective by someone who is very NOT me – it turned into being a guy, and he very much has his own voice and takes the plot in unexpected directions. It’s a very strange thing to sit there and just write down what he does and says and not actually think about it, it just happens. I mostly try and think how to extricate him from these situations he gets himself into, which suits him fine. He’s not a long term planner.
Yesterday I finally finished the edit/rewrite and now I need to go back and put in the linking sections where I’ve in the past had no idea how to do this – and the finale where I pull all the threads together and finish them off… now I am so much closer to it, I know how it should pan out. I started the edit at just under 80,000 words and i hit around 94,000 yesterday afternoon. Plus it’s a much better book and reads better now. I have 2 more weeks to work on it. I will have something ready to send by the publishers by then and try and get some interest from a publisher.
Besides. The next book I want to write is in my head. I already have the plot mapped out and the opening scene written. gotta get this one finished to get onto that one!