Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The One-Quarter Mark!

Back on July 19th, I wrote that I was finally hitting my real kickoff point with the book. Well, after a day that involved a ridiculous amount of writing (3300+ words) I am at 24.91% of my goal words for this book. A mere 200 words will put me over the one-quarter mark, and it feels pretty good, realizing that since July 19th, I've written more than 23,000 words. It's not the 1000 words/day mark that I wanted to hit, and since I started actually tracking time writing and words written on a consistent basis over the last three weeks, I've only had 6 days where I actually crossed that mark.

But it is still a hell of a good feeling, knowing that I am a quarter of the way to my final goal of 130,000 words. I woke up this morning and was talking with my husband a bit before we got up to start our day, and it hit me.

"I'm writing a book!" I said.

He turned his head and looked at me. "Yes, I know."

"Sorry, I think I'm a bit in shock."

One must understand, this is something I've been thinking about for well over fifteen years. I even got my last draft to 52,000 words, and that took something like six years, because I didn't work at it consistently. Which is fine, as I've said before, it was crap, and while there's a lot about the idea of it that I liked, both the plot and my writing have improved immensely since then.

Don't get me wrong - it's not as if I think I'll finish this draft and that's it, pack it off to the printers and I'll have something on the shelf in 2011 or anything like that. There are already things I see that will need to be tweaked, such as the real lack of a sense of place in the first fifty pages or so. As a friend of mine pointed out, while I know what my world looks like, my reader only knows what I tell them. On top of that, in the last few days, I've had some ideas about how to spice up my opening scene, and make it more active, and I may go back and add that piece in sometime this week, or I may save it for my first dedicated editing pass.

But the first two steps to getting published are to 1) write your manuscript, and 2) finish your manuscript.

But the fact of the matter is that I have 32,500 words down, and even though that means about 97,500 lay ahead of me, it remains that I am writing, and I am making progress. I have 84 days left until I hit my personal deadline of November 30th, and I still need to average about 1200 words a day to get there. With all of the days that I've written less than a thousand words, I plan to hit over 2000/day several times yet to make up the difference. If I can continue to do that, I may even finish the book before the end of November, which would be nice.

But, of course, writing is more than just word counts and pages. There is also the plot to consider, or in this case, the series of plots. Any of the authors I've read recently, particularly Lynn Flewelling, Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss, manage, both through their writing, and through careful editing and revision, to weave several plots in and around one another throughout each of their books. It makes for intensely satisfying reading when each subplot, each piece of detail, weaves together into a tight little knot at the end, when one sees how different pieces of the story relate to one another. It's a feeling of, "the whole book has led up to this moment, but only now can I see the clues that were laid out." It's intense.

And not only do I read their books salivating for the next book, the next chapter, the next word, but I finish them thinking, "this is what I want. This is how I want to write." And I'm not sure if I'm up to the challenge, but at the very least, I'm going to try.

So on top of other things, the One-Quarter Mark also means it's time to evaluate my plot lines. Are they coming along at the right pace? What needs to speed up? What needs to slow down? I don't want this book to turn into a trilogy. I've spent fifteen years dreaming up this world, and if I get the opportunity to tell more stories about it, I want them to be about other parts of the world. Whole countries that I've dreamed up and never had an opportunity to touch because I've been so focused on this one story. And as you can see, it's easy for me to get sidetracked, and I can't afford to let that happen too much.

After all, I've got three-quarters of a book to write.