Thursday, June 10, 2010

Every New Beginning . . .

. . . comes from some other beginning's end.

And thus I finish my first novel.  Ever.  And simultaneously begin my first real blog.

OK, technically I finished the novel last week, but I took some time off.  Sue me.  And I'll talk about this blog and its purposes more later.  For now, the novel.

Was it surreal, you ask?  Yes.  Invigorating?  Absolutely.  Motivational?  Indeed.  Everything I dreamed it would be and more?

Not exactly.  But it will do.

I've spent 3-6 hours/day of the past 6 months working on this thing, writing every weekday and as often as I can on weekends.  I don't do mathy things, but thats a lot of hours.  And as much as I absolutely loved it, I admit that sometimes it was like wrestling greased-up giant eels.  That are poisonous.  And swim in burning lava.  In other words, it was difficult and sometimes painful.  And just motivating myself to DO it was a task in and of itself--setting deadlines and goals for yourself can be tough stuff when there's no one but yourself to enforce them.

But it was worth it.  I've heard a lot of writers, both published and unpublished, say that the first novel is inevitably a "practice novel"--something in which they begin to realize how to enhance their skills as writers and storytellers, but that usually ends up being quite unpublishable.  This novel may very well be that for me.  But even if it does turn out to be my "practice novel" and no one even sneezes in my direction because of it, I'll be OK with that.  I learned a whole heap writing this thing.  I learned some of the best ways for me to motivate myself.  I learned a lot about what works and doesn't work for me in preparing to write a novel, and then actually writing it.  I got to know some really intriguing, mysterious, dangerous, heartbreaking characters--many of whom revealed sides of themselves to me that I never saw coming when I started this thing.  Loved that.  And the experience taught me that I can DO this.  I can write novels.

Of course, there is a small percentage of authors who DO publish their first novel.  Depending on how revisions go with this thing, I'd like to think that there's a chance (however small) that I could be one of those guys.  Chances are, five years from now I'll look back at this post and shake my head at my own naive ambition.  But there is also a chance (however tiny) that I'll marvel at my foresight and ambition, too.

Of course, as amazing as I think this novel is, it is also a rotten chunk of excrement.  Here's my doublethink:  for the most part, this novel is ROUGH.  There are whole scenes missing.  A few chapters, even.  I changed things later on in the text that I haven't bothered to go back and change in earlier parts yet.  There is even a character or two who I decided I didn't need, so partway through the novel they literally cease to exist.  And some of the writing is atrocious.  I know six-year olds who could do better.  That's just how this draft went.  And for those of you saying "hey that would make a great postmodern novel," shut up.  You're wrong.

All that being said, I think this novel has a LOT of potential.  And that's why I think its amazing.  There are some OK parts in it right now, to begin with.  But I see so much more in it.  If I can get some of those things to emerge in revisions, I'll be quite blissed out.  I don't know if that will be possible, but I'll give it a try.

Lets see some stats.

Some Stats:
Total Word Count:  184,654 words
Total Manuscript Pages:  877
Chapters:  58, not including Prologue and Epilogue
Viewpoint Characters:  3 major, 5 minor
File Size:  3.3 MB
Start Date:  4 January 2010
End Date:  4 June 2010

Yikes.  If you're at all familiar with MS formatting and how it vaguely converts to real bookly pages, you might now be wondering what on earth I'm thinking.  185,000 words.  That's a lot of words.  And I admit, the length in and of itself may make the thing unpublishable as a first novel.  Perhaps some of that will come out in revisions.  But, honestly, it could just as easily inflate itself even further.  So we'll see how that roles out.

And, finally, you may be wondering what its about.  Well.  I think I'll try to post some of my pitch ideas in the future (one-sentence, one-paragraph, and two paragraph pitches all to come--I know the following would never do as a pitch, so don't hate on me, I'm just giving a taste), but for now I'll just tell you that its a fantasy novel, on the darker side of fantasy I would say.  Its about a man who lost his memory.  Its about a woman whose new husband left her on their wedding night and doesn't know why. Its about a priestess whose sister and best friend--and eventually her entire family--is accused of heresy.  Its about a little girl who is hundreds of years old.  Its about finding truth and recognizing when its not worth finding.  Its about changing.  Its about recognizing one's own strengths and weaknesses and trying to figure out how to deal with each of them, especially when they happen to be the same thing.  And its about understanding how minute one life can be in the face of history and future.

Or, at least, I like to think its about all those things.  The more likely scenario is that its about a bunch of flat characters who travel to boring places and fight really awkwardly with other people whose motivations don't make sense.  And most of them have really weird-sounding names.

But I'll admit, I'm proud of those flat characters and their blundering battles with senseless enemies as they try to figure out what they hell they're doing in this ridiculous world in the first place.  Because its mine, and I wrote it.

So . . . there's the rub.  One novel down, a whole lot more to go.

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