When I finished chapter 35 of my first novel this week, I fell shy of hitting the magic 90,000 words / 500 pages mark. (My chapters have gotten shorter since I switched from writing in longhand to using a typewriter.) Ten months after I started writing the rough draft, I still have 200 pages to write over the next two months before I’m done. The ending is now in sight for this long journey to come so far.
What will happen after the rough draft gets done? Nothing.
I will forget everything about my first novel by hiding the reading copy (double spaced pages printed on orange paper to discourage editing with a red pen), taking down the sticky notes from the brainstorming poster board, and working on other projects for the next three months. When that time passes, I will spend a month evaluating the rough draft, going through all the notebooks, and putting together a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. I’ll spend the next four months creating the first draft from scratch, take a one month break, and spend another four months polishing the second draft. I should have a finished manuscript to shop around in summer 2010.
I’m looking forward to the three-month break. I just finished the vampire novella that I spent two years working on that needs polishing. When I’m done with that, I’ll drop the novella into my short story collection and shop that around. I still got two dozen short stories I’m flogging around in the slush piles. I’ll be outlining my second novel while editing my first novel.
When I decided three years ago to get serious about being a writer, I thought things would get easier after a while like the Sprint commercial that’s being shown at the movie theaters: a writer gets a phone call from his agent that a deal went through, Hollywood producers transforms his story into something else, and he gives approval over the cellphone while holding hands with his girlfriend at the car dealership. Although that commercial is about how one phone call can ruin a good thing at the movies, I got ticked off since my writing life is nothing like that. I’m still waiting for the girlfriend at the car dealership thing to happen.
NOTE: This blog post was first published on Once Upon An Albatross… blog.