Blog No. 386
I mentioned last week that with Broadcast Wasteland finished and the shipment on its way (currently somewhere near Etobicoke according to the package tracking, but it has been historically, wildly inaccurate) I’ve dived back into the novel. It has always been my plan to eventually write a novel (eventually being the key word in that sentence). Initially, I was all in on short stories as that is what brought me into reading in the first place and the plan was to cut my teeth on the shorts and build the skills to write a novel. After a couple of years working on stories for AWP, I rolled up my sleeves and made my first attempt at writing a novel.
I failed. The first story wasn’t totally original, I was still writing everything by hand back then, and I had no idea what I was doing. I stuck with it through five(ish) chapters and eventually let it die. It was not going to work out and I needed to learn a lot more before I could write a novel. I was going to WOW at the time and my writing was getting better, and had a dream that stuck with my and eventually turned into a story that I thought would work as a novel. I felt badly about abandoning the first attempt, so I told myself that if I could write 10 000 words in a week, I was allowed to quit the first novel and start writing the second one.
I pulled it off, but I still wasn’t ready and I lost steam on that second novel 40 000 words in. I still want to get back to it, but the idea really is more of a young adult thing and kind of fantasy like and I would need to do some major rewrites, but one day. I shelved the second novel but felt like I was making progress. The third attempt turned out to be the first book in the Pilot series. Once again, I made myself a promise. I could do Pilot, but that was it. I had to finish it (and I had to do it within a year). I made it by the skin of my teeth, writing more than 3000 words on December 31st to finish the first draft.
The thing is, while I would call it a novel, it needs work and I felt like trying to sell a series would be a lot harder than an individual book. Once again, I put the book on hold with the intention of going back to it, but this time, I knew I had what it took to write a novel (I just had to do it in a lot less than twelve months). I turned to the novellas and when Streets was finally off my plate, I managed to put out The Thinking Machine. Even though it was a rough start (I’m still finding typos in the book) I fell in love with novellas. I went right into The Neon Heart after Thinking was out and when Neon was finished started the Invasion Novel. I struggled to find the voice for the novel and put it on hold to write Broadcast.
Pausing the novel may not have been the smartest idea, but writing Broadcast in a single sprint of forty-nine consecutive days was a big accomplishment, and even still, I had to rush to get it out on time. I learned a lot from it, but was hesitant to get back into a novel that I wasn’t sure about. The idea is solid, but I wrote a few thousand words of a false start and scraped that to try again. At 50 000 words, I was worried I’d have to do that a second time (not counting the other novel false starts that got me to this point).
I knew that as soon as Broadcast was at the printers, I would have no excuse to not write the novel, but not being at the day job was a twist I wasn’t counting on. Now I have a lot of free time and even fewer excuses to not write. I reread what I had written of the Invasion novel and felt that, even though it needs work, there is enough there worth finishing. While I have no end of story ideas, an idea that can hold up a novel is something specific and I’m not confident I have an idea so much better than it’s worth scrapping all that work. So, for the last couple weeks, I’ve been writing just about every day and adding words to this book while still not sure what’s going to make it past the second draft. I’m sure that there is a novel worth writing in here, but that second draft is going to cause future Ben a lot of headaches.
Even though I’m sure I’ll cut a lot, no work is a waste. It all helps make me a better writer and I’m sure I’ve learned a ton. I have novella four that I’m really excited for, but I’m going to wait to do that until August (attempting the same first draft blitz as with Broadcast but a month earlier). I’ve said it many times before. I need a novel to send to agents, so from now until then, I have the first draft to finish and maybe even a second draft depending on how long I’ll be laid off. I’m currently staring down 70 000 words and am somewhere in the middle (to late middle) of the story. It may end up near the 120 000 word mark by the time I finish the first draft, but I’m confident that by the time I’m finished trimming the fat, I’ll be nowhere near that length. Still, I know that I can write an 80 000 word novel and I know that I can write 44 000 words in 49 days. Those kinds of accomplishments make me feel like I can finish this book and make it something worth reading.
I still have a lot of work to do and a lot of areas to improve, but I’m getting close to my goal of a novel and a novella in a year. I won’t always have weeks free to work, though, so I’m trying to take advantage of the current situation, as troublesome as it may be. I think I found my ending for the Invasion Novel, but I can’t see it from where I am, so I’d better get back to work. I should have copies of Broadcast shortly. I’ll make the announcement and work out the details for selling and distributing them when they’re here and virus free. Stay tuned for that and stay safe out there.