Earlier this week I finished polishing (Vampires) Made in America. It is done. As done as I can get it. As done as I feel it needs to be to submit to agents. I don’t know that I’ll get an agent with it, but I do need the experience of submitting to agents and possibly making some connections. Gotta start somewhere.
(Vampires) Made in America started as a 2011 NaNo novel called American Vampires. That’s right. A little over six years ago, I wrote the first words of this book. It took me six years to call it done. Wild. But not unusual. At least for me. I wrote the first draft of The World (Saving) Series for NaNo 2010; it wasn’t finished until June of 2013 (it’ll never see daylight). I wrote the first draft of A Tale of Two Lady Killers for NaNo 2009 (I’m sensing a pattern here); it wasn’t finished until April of 2014.
I think for me part of the reason it takes me so long to complete a novel-length work is because of my loud brain. I can’t work on just one thing at once. I try to give myself time between first draft and first revision and then between revisions and then between final revision and polish to give the words time to settle. So, I find myself preoccupied with other, shorter projects during these breaks and the novel gets pushed down further and further down the priority list because “it can wait”.
I think the other reason is how overwhelming a task it seems to get a novel to the point of doneness. Thanks to NaNo writing the first draft of a novel is a breeze and also thanks to my experiences in revising, I’ve gotten better at writing first drafts that don’t require as many story overhauls as I used to (this past NaNo being a now rare exception). But still, compared to revising a short story or even a novella/novelette, a novel is a lot of work.
Another reason it’s so easy to push it down on the priority list. Putting off the pain.
I suppose with two more Outskirts novels, The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, waiting for their own rounds of revisions, I should probably not default to that so easily. If I want to show myself to be a worthwhile investment to an agent and/or publisher, it might be in my best interest to accustom myself to the practice of completely finishing a novel in a shorter amount of time, especially since the novels I write aren’t that long to begin with. After all, making a living by doing this is the whole point and improving only helps that.
I’ll start small. Try to get a novel totally done before it’s old enough to go to kindergarten.
It’s good to have goals.
NaNoWriMo was in the bag at a little over 50,000 words on November 19th and I got around to validating it on the 26th. I reconciled pretty early on in the story that I wasn’t going to hit 60,000 words like I usually do for my NaNo novels, but I sort of knew that was going to be the case. The story I had was a little thin, to be honest. As I wrote I saw places that will probably be fleshed out whenever revisions happen, but I didn’t bother following any of those tangents. More than any other NaNo, I just wanted to be done.
This was a sort of wild NaNo. For the first time in many years I didn’t make my usual 2,000 word minimum every day. Taking off for the Cubs World Series parade, I settled for only writing 500 words two days in a row, which set me back not only by my standards, but also by the NaNo daily need to stay on target.
I only made 4,000 words a couple of days. I usually hit that mark easily on the weekends, if not a couple of other days during the week. The fallout from the election really kinda consumed my existence for a solid week, week and a half. Most of my time was spent reading articles and being active on Twitter spreading information (I’m sure I was muted/blocked/unfollowed by scores of people because I wasn’t entertaining anymore and I’m sure the few people who know me in my offline existence were the first to go). I didn’t want to write anything, let alone some stupid novel about a conjurer that will probably never be revised and/or see the light of day, even if I do love my conjurer and her friends.
But I wrote it anyway.
Because that’s kinda the point of NaNo. Writing when real life intrudes. Writing when you don’t want to. Forcing yourself to make time for your words. This is my 13th NaNo. You’d think I’d have gotten that drilled into my brain by now. I guess it sort of is because that is what made me push to get my words written. I admit that some days were more of a struggle than others.
My final push saw me hit 6,000 words two days in a row. Like I said, I wanted to be done.
And I am and I’m glad and it’s win number 10.
It’s that time of year again. Oh yes. Time to write 50,000 words (okay, 60,000 for me) in thirty days.
I finally figured out that I should just write another Outskirts novel. This one will feature truther (not THAT kind of truther) Maisie Day, conjurer LittleJessie Witt, and famed hunter Sister Mary Valle. The working title is To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, which isn’t great, but not great titles are my thing. I’m not married to it by any means, so I can easily change it if I ever revise it.
Naturally, I say “if” because (Vampires) Made in America and The End of the (Werewolf) Curse still sit waiting. I’ll get around to them one day, I’m sure.
I’ve only outlined the first ten chapters of To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, the idea being that for every chapter I write, I’ll outline the next. You know. Write chapter one and then outline chapter eleven. I don’t want to get too far ahead with this story because I only have a vague idea of what I’m doing with it.
This could be a potential disaster, but I’m all in as always, baby.
Though my main focus will be on NaNo as my Novembers are usually spent (I think this is number 13 maybe), I did finish the first “season” of my Patreon serial idea. I’m going to attempt to revise at least the first episode or two during the month. Fingers-crossed that it’ll be something worth trying come the new year. As usual, I was feeling way too ambitious to think I’d have it ready to go before then.
I’ve also been writing essays on the side for the last month or two. Just another practice thing. A page a day of learning is good for my brain, I think.
Let’s hope I have some brain left after this month.