Thursday, January 20, 2011

Milestones

I've been out of work now since New Year's Eve, although I'm pleased to report I start contract work this coming Monday, with a good chance it will turn into a longer term thing. It's been a strange kind of time -- sometimes depressing and downright terrifying, other times a nice break and a chance to spend time with the family and catch up on some long delayed house-jobs.

It's also been a good chance to get some writing done. Right from the start I knew it would be important to keep up a regular routine, so I set myself a goal of spending Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the university library working on the first draft of MMA. In the end, I didn't do it each week, but I managed to get in for about 5 or 6 days of the 3 weeks I was without work. On my best day I managed to write 10,000 words, quite an achievement for a single 8 hour session. I'm not sure what they put in my coffee that day, but I wish I could get hold of more of it. Most days I achieved a more modest total of between 3,000 and 6,000 words. Nice progress, and it enabled me to finish the draft yesterday, coming in at a final total of just over 80,000 words.

I wasn't sure how I'd go spending the whole day writing - whether I'd get two hours in and find myself unable to do any more. In fact, most days I couldn't believe how quickly 8 hours flashed past. I'm still not sure it's something I could ever do full-time, but it's been an interesting experiment anyway.

So now I start the whole editing process. First off are the major changes - chapters that need a complete re-write, characters who need to be deleted or altered significantly, that kind of thing. Next will be more minor tweaks such as the addition of better description, thinking through locations a bit more (which will involve drawing maps and diagrams), looking for logical errors and trying to plug them, hopefully with simple solutions. Finally it will be the more detailed edit, where I rewrite sentences and try and make the wording read better.

I find that as I pass through each stage of this process, the work gets easier but takes longer to do. For GPL, for example, I found that I could rewrite a chapter in about 2 or 3 evenings, but it could take as many as 6 or 7 to do a fine edit on the same number of words.

I need to remember, though, that this is only the second time in my life that I've gone through this process. Perhaps this time I'll find it quicker and easier. Either way, it's nice to finally have a firm first draft. It's taken me more than six months to get to this point, during which time I estimate I wrote around 120,000 words (60,000 by hand). I learned a lot though, so I'm sure when it comes time to write book 3 it won't be quite such a grind. Let's hope!

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