Writing Update: New Manuscript Completed! A Hundred Names For Rain
Today, I completed the first draft on my latest novel, A Hundred Names For Rain. But it is not done. Being done means I am am ready for other people to start reading it. It’s not anywhere near that, yet.
I started this book as an experiment. I hadn’t written anything new in over a year, and for me, that’s a very long time. I’ve spent months recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and also completed half a dozen major edits on existing manuscripts since finishing my last new book, Labeled, in June 2011. I needed to make sure I still had it.
I also wanted to know what writing full-time would be like. I lost my job back in October, and because of my GBS, I just haven’t been able to go back to work full-time yet. So I could, for the first time in my life, just sit down, day after day, and write.
The other thing I wanted with this book, was to work on areas of writing I really hadn’t done before. This book is different in tone, characterization, and subject than anything I’ve ever written before. I wanted to challenge myself to see what my writing boundaries were, so I could set my expectations for the future. I’m sure my agent will be thrilled to hear that. (Don’t worry, Sally, it’ll be a long while before this one makes it to your desk.)
So how did I do?
First, because I’m a stats kind of guy, here are the relevant ones:
- Number of Days since I started manuscript: 37
- Number of Days where writing actually happened: 34
- Length of Manuscript: 70482 words, or 282 Pages, or 42 chapters + epilogue
- Average words per day: 1904
- Average words per day on days actually written: 2073
- Highest number of words written in a single day: 3845 (November 16)
- Lowest number of words on days actually written: 458 (November 4)
Below is a graph of words versus date. Since I was writing this alongside other people doing NaNoWriMo, I tracked their pace to mine, just to see how I was doing.
As for the results of my experiment:
1. Yes, I still have it. Writing new words comes easy for me, and I have no lack of new story ideas. I had actually thought this one up back in February, when I was still in critical care. I wrote a 5000 word outline as soon as I could type when I got out so I wouldn’t forget it. Even with nine months to percolate, it still seemed like a good idea, and stayed on my mind enough that I knew I would write it eventually. Now was as good a time as any.
2. Writing full time is a completely different experience from writing as a hobby on the train, for many reasons.
First, I wrote this whole book on my desktop PC, instead of on a laptop. My desktop PC has dual, large-screen monitors and is connected to the internet. My laptop has a single 13” monitor, and is rarely connected to the internet. After the first few days, I had to force myself to shut down my Twitter client so I wasn’t continuously distracted my the twitterisms of the people I follow.
The writing process was completely different as well. When writing on the train, I always read and edited everything I wrote the last time (usually about 600 words) and started from there. But with full-time writing, the story remained in my head all day long. I didn’t have to go back and re-read to see where I left off. So I just started writing as soon as I sat down. I expect this will bite me when I go to do the first edit, as the words have never actually been read after I typed them.
What was important in writing full-time, was to maintain a very daily routine. Shower, breakfast and surf the web while I ate, vision therapy / exercise, take kids to school, put the kettle on, open the document and close twitter, make tea. Write. If undisturbed, I’d write from 7:45 AM till 9:30 or 10:00 AM. On days where I fell off the schedule (or weekend days where the schedule just didn’t exist, the writing was much harder. I tried to handle all phone calls, emails and blog entries in the afternoon, if I had any energy left. This wasn’t always possible, and my wife can attest to how grumpy I became when my schedule got interrupted.
One advantage of writing at home full time, was that taking a mid-day bath (which I do anyway to help with my GBS symptoms) really helped to clear up where the story was going next. I obviously couldn’t do this while at work. Sometimes I would write in the afternoon, but usually I was worn out from my morning session, and writing late in the day would kill me. This is more of a function of still dealing with GBS than the effort required to write. I think I could probably write 2500-3500 words every day if I didn’t have the GBS to worry about, but anything beyond that, and my brain wouldn’t be able to keep up with the story.
The other thing I noticed is that by the end of the book, my typing had gotten much better and much faster. I’ve never been a touch typist, and years of programming haven’t helped, since programming usually involves using a lot more of the keyboard, and using the mouse a lot more. I don’t know what my typing speed is, but it is definitely faster now than it was a few months ago.
3. The book did not end up with the same tone as I initially planned, though the plot did follow fairly closely to what I had outlined. I had planned for a very dark, gothic tone. It ended up more like more like a Jonathon Tropper novel than an Anne Rice tome. I just couldn’t maintain the dark tone and not make it feel awkward. As a result, I will have some portions that need significant rework because the tone isn’t consistent.
So now that this book is done, what’s next?
In the next week or so, I’m going to give it a quick edit, cleaning it up to remove obvious errors and to see if I can identify passages where the tone just doesn’t match the rest of the book. When that’s done, I’ll pass it off to my first alpha-reader, my wife, who gets first read on everything I write. If she says it’s complete crap, it’ll probably never see the light of day.
After that, I will be returning to the world of Jake and Izzy in Nowhere Wild, and doing some edits. I’m not sure how long that will take me, but I do know that I will have my very first official publishing deadline to deal with. That effort will begin the week of December 17th and go as long as it takes.
Beyond that, it’s likely I will jump back to Labeled and do a review / edit of that before passing that off to my next set of readers.
I know I will write at least one new novel in 2013, likely a rewrite of Nowhere Home, the sequel to Nowhere Wild, and possibly one short, non-fiction book. We’ll see how everything comes together, and how much time I have. If my business takes off, or I return to work full time, my plans could dramatically change.
But one way or another, 2013 will be absolutely filled with words. I will likely never go another year without writing a novel. I just love it too much. Even when the words aren’t working, it’s still the best gig in the world.