I had planned to write a short story and be done with it. But the characters kept whispering. I ignored them as long as I could, but then I decided the only way to exorcise them was to write them free. Since I had been writing quite a lot of short stories, it made sense to write some more short stories and let the characters have their say.
Perhaps, I thought, I will tell stories from some of the other characters’ perspectives. Maybe I will end up with a whole collection of short stories build around a few core characters who all reside in the same small town. But, apparently, that was not to be. Sure, I wrote, but it turns out that one character in particular kept shouting louder than the others (she is bossy like that), so instead of writing from lots of different voices and perspectives, I wrote from one. And the stories, which I thought would be from a random scattering of time, seemed to come in a very linear fashion. But I kept writing, because that’s what “You Do.” Finally, I had to admit to myself that this did not seem to WANT to be a collection of short stories. This wanted to be A Novel.
It took me a little while to accept this. Like a desperate parent with a rogue child, I seemed to think that if I could just get the story “under control” it would behave the way I wanted it to. It didn’t. Finally, I decided to stop trying to create what I thought the story was “supposed” to be, and to write the story that way it was destined to be.
I’ll admit it. There is a part of me (perhaps more than I like to admit) that really likes the immediacy (read: instant gratification) of the short story. I like being able to write something, to get it out of my system, and to move on. Maybe I have commitment issues. But this story isn’t done with me yet; I am not done with it. And this story is going to require some serious commitment. I feel compelled to see it from its short story infancy into the maturity of a novel, and that means that I need to stick my butt in a chair and write more and harder than I have ever written before. It means that I need to be aware of my daily word count and to Keep. Moving. Forward.
And it means lots of editing, and revising, and cutting, and fleshing out. It means beta readers, and critiques, and more revising.
It also means giving myself a lot of pep talks. I have found that reading about the journey of other writers helps. A lot. It lets me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have bookmarked Veronica Roth’s blog, and I read it when I should be doing other things. Like work, or writing, or blogging…. I don’t imagine that the light at the end of MY tunnel will be anything akin to hers, but it still helps me keep writing, so that is something.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am currently 10,627 words into my novel. There is still plenty more to write. I am hoping to have the first draft completed before the kids get out of school for the summer, and to spend my summer revising. For this to happen, I need to be writing approximately 700+ words per day. This sounds totally do-able in theory. (Feel free to bookmark this post so you can mock me later.)
However, it seems like this is another case of Man Plans, God Laughs. (Hello?! Did I mention the full time job, and freelance writing, and the husband, and three kids? What could possibly detract from my writing time?)
Fortunately, I have a solution to my time crunch. Lunch. Or rather, writing through lunch. If I can sit down and write over my lunch hour, that is one hour of uninterrupted (in theory) minutes during which I can peck away at the keyboard. If I do this religiously for the next eleven weeks, that is 55 hours of writing time. If I can write 700 words per hour, that gives me 38,500 more words. Plus, assuming I can also carve out two hours each weekend to write, that is 22 more hours, which = 15,400 more words. For a total of 64,527 words. Which, for a first draft, isn’t bad. Especially since I know I am a flesher-outter, not a parer-downer (yes, those are words, or at least they should be), and that the final word count will undoubtedly expand during the editing phase.*
plan idea is do-able, at least in theory…as long as I don’t mess up and call it “A Plan.”
* Admission: when I try to “control” things, I tend to number crunch. Bear with me.