March 12, 2020 in Dag

We’re back on board and the winds are blowing

Hooray. Today I get to do another good news post.

Three years ago, almost to the day, I started work on a new novel. It was more ambitious than anything else I’d attempted, combining at least five different genres (comedy, fantasy, romance, adventure, satire). It also contained dual narratives – something I’d never attempted before.

Not surprisingly, progress was slow. It took me over a year to finally get a first draft completed. And then it sat there. For weeks and weeks. Months and months. Years and (almost) years.

Why did it sit there so long? I can think of several reasons.

Firstly, I always like to let a story rest after completing a first draft, in order to let ideas settle, and to get a bit of distance before I begin rewriting. The length of this rest is directly proportional to the length and complexity of the story. With something very short and simple, like a picture book text, I might only wait a few days. But something this big and complex needed a good amount of time, like a fine wine slowly maturing.

The second reason also relates to length and complexity. Because it was so big and complicated, I’ve been a bit scared to jump back in again. Knowing how much was needed to make the story vaguely presentable, I’d resisted taking that big leap forward.

And finally, there has been so much going on in my life, it was hard to find the time and brainspace I needed to do justice to the work required on this story.

But today I’m pleased to report the good news. I’m back on board (which is a completely appropriate metaphor, given that a large amount of the story revolves around an ocean voyage) and the winds are blowing strongly.

Okay, so I haven’t done much. So far, I’ve just edited a few pages – little things like tidying up text, removing redundant words, making it sing just a little more. There’s still a massive journey in front of me, and lots of substantive rewriting required as I get into the guts of the story. But the main thing is I’ve started. I’ve overcome that combination of inertia and fear and leapt back into action.

And even more significantly, I’m really enjoying it. Over the last two years, while I’ve been focusing on smaller stories, I’ve forgotten the joy of immersing myself in a really big story. Now every day, whatever I’m doing, I can’t wait to get back to my computer at home and continue rewriting.

It’s a big job. It will likely take me over a year, just to get a second draft complete. And I’m sure even then there will be a heap of rewriting needed. But I’ve left the harbour and am now sailing out to sea, and that’s the main thing.


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