1 Year, 184 Days of Writing a Novel
Back to full health, it seems. And maybe an extra piece or two from a fairy ring of rest and medicine.
In fact, my mind is working so well, that I just scribbled down pieces of a conversation that should have happened about four chapters ago.
The current chapter is almost done. I thought I had finished it in December, but I was wrong. As usual.–But its good!–(Honestly, it needed the time. It seems to me, that maybe stories just need time to ferment. Even when you know what’s happening.) I could tell you everything that happens right now, I think, until the end of the book. A few things I’m unsure of…But I could tell you most of the big stuff.
And yet, it will still take me another 4 months or so of writing–I almost winced, typing that. But it’s true. The novel will be done when it’s done. And even then it will need reading, and thinking, and another draft, before it makes any damn sense to anyone other than me.
Who are you, reading this? A fellow writer, drowning in fear? Are you someone from the future, who read this book and liked it? Or someone from another future, where it was never published, and you wonder what I was doing with all my time?
I suppose it doesn’t matter. Some days are barren wastelands, and these words I put down in front of me are the train tracks to get me through them. Read them fast. Shovel the coal with me.
Last Sunday I wrote the end of a Character’s life, and felt a sudden–if not quick, stab of emotion. I felt water in my eyes. Blinked and it was gone. But I still felt a weight. A loss. Mostly in my chest. A momentous sparkle of grief. Like I had swallowed a stone.
I rarely cry these days. I lost all my tears to my early twenties. Even at movies, or books: I’m always surprised when I feel something extra from them. But it happens. From time to time. When things are done right. When the magic of good storytelling is there.
And I think about that. About what makes me feel something for imaginary people.
I think it might be getting lost in the words when your writing. Not faking it. Just really writing. Plans are necessary too, of course. But just typing and letting the words go where they need to… think that’s where the magic comes from.
I’ll be twenty-seven next month.
How lovely it is to know; to know everything I want. To know what I am doing. To know that I want to write. And have stories worth writing. How exciting it is to know that 10% of everything I do is going to be talent, and 90% of it is going to be hard, horrible, and heart breaking work.
I had coffee with Mr. Matthew Elam. We have now managed to have coffee together the first Saturday of February two years in a row. I’m already trying to remember to set the date aside for next year.
I told him my novel. Nearly everything, from the beginning to what I had last written–I paused every few minutes: “stop me if you’re bored” (but he never was)–and when it was done he was very kind, and enthusiastic about it. And just going through the whole story like that…It felt good.
I hadn’t done that since I was finishing act 1, a year ago, and having coffee at the very same shop with Mr. Robin Moore.
…That second act took me a year.
If I had known that when I had started…
Cheers to you, Younger Todd. You made it.