Blog No. 62
Chapter one of my novel was the most intimidating thing I’ve ever faced in my writing life – until I got to chapter two. I originally had the idea for the novel I’m working on some four years ago. I was back home from my time at teacher’s college and I had just gotten over my (then mysterious) illness and was spending time just being happy that I felt healthy again. I knew that I had to start finding a way to get a job (other that the crappy retail one I had at the time) and I felt like I had to take advantage of how I was feeling. I have always had something I was working on (or that I would think about and tell people I was working on). For a while when I was in high school it was a young adult story. Then it was a TV show that turned into a comic when I realized how many people it took to make a TV show. Then I switched to a movie script (somehow forgetting that it would take as many people as a TV show would). I decided to work on a graphic novel after that. I struggled with all of those projects and I eventually came to realize that I should really try to write something that wouldn’t require anyone else’s help. I can’t draw or direct or act, but I knew I could tell stories.
With that in mind I decided that what I really needed to work on was a novel. I wouldn’t be let down by someone and I couldn’t let anyone down but myself. The novel sounded like the perfect choice. The problem was that I still wasn’t at the place I needed to be in order to actually write anything. I did a lot of that thinking about it that a lot of would be writers do with their various projects. I tried really hard to not tell anyone the details for this story though. I thought that if the only way I could tell people was by writing it, I would be more inclined to do that writing. The theory isn’t wrong, but I still didn’t do much in the way of writing. I spent years “working” on the first chapter of this book and the most I had written was a single typed page.
Then came Adventure Worlds. A good friend who has had some of the same struggles as I did and his friend who was not surprisingly in the same boat came to me and said they wanted to start a blog. We had a couple of meetings and while they were fun, we didn’t get much writing done. I started a short story for that initial blog, but I still had my novel banging around in the back of my head. We spent a year getting together (infrequently) and talking. Some time at the end of that year we decided to take a different path with the blog. We would use it as a place to post whatever stories we had and we would force ourselves, and each other, to actually do some of that writing instead of just talking about it. I’ve spent a few posts talking about that so I’ll leave the details out, but after a few successes on the blog I began to believe I could actually take a crack at that novel, and here I am – on chapter two.
All it took was completely changing my mindset and spending a year learning how to write. The initial idea for the novel started at what is now chapter two. I knew that there would be something before it, but I didn’t know exactly what it was or how I would write it. I believed that once I got over that hump chapter two would fly. I even had a big chunk of text in my notebook for the second chapter. Chapter one has a lot of action, and I’m not very good with action yet. I spent a lot of time working on it with “For Them and Not” but I have a ways to go yet. I thought that was what was holding me back, but apparently now I have trouble with dialogue too, because that’s mostly what happens in chapter two and I’m having all kinds of trouble figuring that out.
I am almost finished a first draft of the newly dreaded chapter two. It will need major revision, but the whole novel will – which is it’s own kind of intimidation hell. I think that I have worked out what I did wrong in the second chapter. I’m going through it and marking the spots that are missing that thing that makes dialogue exciting but I’m trying not to slow down too much either. There will be several opportunities to fix the first draft not to mention several drafts and lots of edits from some really dedicated friends. I think I just need to get the last paragraph or some done in chapter two and push on into chapter three. I’ll let future Ben try to fix it. I’ll also leave those other projects I wanted to do to future Ben. Once I figure this novel thing out I’d like to try something else.