I’m about done with this.
Now, I know that you didn’t ask what I was done with, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
My current novel.
Not the one that I’m reading or the one that’s gathering dust on my side table or even the one that’s propping up a corner of my desk. Rather, I’m about done with the novel that I’m writing. Usually that is a sign for celebration, but not in this case. Because I’m not actually near the physical ending of this book. Instead, I’m done with it on an emotional level.
Let me give you a little back ground.
I’m not great at planning word counts or chapter counts. Not my forte, nor something that I even have a desire to care about. I should. But I don’t, not since I broke the mold in my head years ago (I used to insist that every chapter had about 6,000 each). Still, I learned industry jargon and norms, setting the goal of about 80,000 words for this latest fare.
Right now, I’m just over 51,000. 51,800, if I’m correct. And it’s seeming to take forever.
Don’t get me started on how the 40,000 to 50,000 mark is going. If the whole process seemed to take 100 years, 95% was just within those 10,000 words. And now that I’m past it, the 50,000’s don’t seem to be taking that long. We’ll see in a little bit, but so far so good.
It’s just that this whole process seems to be taking an age and a half. Let me try and explain how this works in my head. Maybe that will explain part of it.
I plan for (about) 1,000 words a day. I write them during my lunch hour at work and am successful every day, more or less. Then I go home and sometimes write some more. Depends on my mood, but everyone out there knows what it’s like to put your nose to the grindstone day after day on top of working a full-time, 40 hour week job. I’m tired. Still I do what I can.
Before I go any further, I just want to put out a disclaimer. I’m not whining. I know what I’m doing and I’m just trying to be honest. So if it does, I’m sorry.
Ok, where was I?
1,000 words a day, with an estimated total of 80,000 words. That breaks down to (easy math) 80 days. Average each month at about 30 days each, and I should be able to finish this novel within three months.
I’m on month five.
Yeah, that chafes. What can I say? There is no defense. The math is there, so I have to deal and move forward. And move forward I do, every day. More than one person has noticed this, my habit of working through lunches and listening to me talk about writing at home. There’s been comments about how I need to relax more, but I know the hard truth. If I want to make it in this industry, I have to keep writing.
So that’s one of my issues. The other—perhaps the bigger of the two—boils down to my writing style. I’m a discovery writer. Each time I sit down to write something, from my novel to these blog posts, I have no idea what’s instore for both myself and the readers.
And I love that experience. It keeps things fresh and exciting. For example, the other day, I wrote a scene where the antagonist breaks into a fancy dress ball and sets the place on fire. But between the first gunshot and lighting the first match, he kidnaps a woman. Who is she? I’ve no clue and am lost, but I roll with it. So now Ms. What’s-Her-Face is now part of the novel.
“Then what’s the issue?” you ask.
“The problem is,” I say, my heart filled with sorrow, “that I already know everything else that’s going to happen.”
Well, perhaps I should be a bit more specific. I don’t know everything. What I do know is the all the rest of the major events, and most of the medium sized ones as well. And one or two of the small ones.
Can you see why that’s so frustrating to me? It takes all the surprise and the excitement out of the writing. When I know what’s going to happen, that can be a good thing because I know where to lead the story, where to put the twists, and how to continue engaging the reader.
All at the expense of feeling like I’ve written it all before.
And when I’ve written the same thing repeatedly, it’s boring. Old. Trite. I’m done with it. Ready to move on to something else to sink my teeth into. So I lose the urge to continue. That’s no way to finish a novel.
I want to finish it. There’s many reasons for that, too many to count here. But in some ways, this novel’s just lost its snap to me. That’s a pity because each time I sit down behind that keyboard, I have to fake it like everything’s bright and shiny and new.
Perhaps I can shake it up and switch things about. Do everything but the event that’s been rolling around in my head for the past few months. But I probably won’t, instead choosing the harder road because what I’m imagining feels right.
And we all know that feeling is worth cities of gold.
So bear with me, Dear Reader. I’ll finish this novel and move on to editing other stories while this one mellows for a bit. Then when the time’s right, I’ll dust it off and make it all good in the end. It’s what I do. What we do as writers.
Wouldn’t change that for the world.