It’s been 3 months since this post, where I mentioned that I’d started writing a novel. I therefore felt like it was time for an update on my progress – maybe I’ll try and make it a quarterly thing.
Progress has been a bit up and down, as I guess is to be expected. In terms of getting words on a page, there have been some weeks where I’ve managed the 300 words a day, if not more, but then other weeks where I haven’t written anything at all. There have probably been too many of the latter. When things are busy in my day job, it’s hard to then find the mental/emotional capacity to sit down and write creatively, even if only for 15 minutes. Still, I’m happy enough with my word count so far: 19,423. That’s slightly longer than that Catatonia fanfic I mentioned last time, so in your face, past me!
As to whether those words are actually any good – well, that’s a totally different issue. I keep telling myself that that’s not relevant at the moment and that the first draft’s allowed to be awful – I can make it better later. Robert Webb actually tweeted about this recently, as he’s trying to take the same approach with a novel he’s writing (he also gets bonus points for mentioning Cheesoid). He doesn’t seem to have totally bought into it as a method, but personally I’m finding it really useful and liberating. Granted, I say that now. If and when I actually come to doing a second draft, I might just cry incessantly and then hurl my laptop out the window. My first draft currently includes some words that aren’t even words, they’re just this: ‘(…)’. This translates as ‘I’ll put something in here later’. So far I’ve used this for at least 2 characters’ names. Yes, this method has made me so nonchalant that I can’t even be arsed to come up with names for everyone. I’ll just do it later! Like I said, draft 2 is going to be a bitch.
In terms of the story itself, what am I willing to share at the moment? Well, the main character is a 30-something woman (*audible gasps* The imagination!! How could you perceive of such a thing?). It’s mostly her story, but it’s also interwoven with her Grandmother’s story, told via a series of letters she’s written on her deathbed (that’s not too much of a spoiler – she dies on the first page. At least, she does in the current draft… I also read this thread on Twitter recently and it scared the bejesus out of me. Like I said, crying and laptop throwing). Recently I’ve been focused on getting those letters written, as it seemed sensible to write them all at once and then just insert them into the novel at the appropriate times, as the Granddaughter reads them. I’m on the penultimate one at the moment, but it feels like the number of (…)s is growing exponentially. It seemed like a great idea to basically write this woman’s life story, but then I remembered I was born in the ’80s and so oddly have no notion as to how realistically I might be depicting events/attitudes/locations from the ’40s or ’50s. Plus, if you write about someone’s entire life, even if it is just skipping through the major events, it still starts to become a logistical nightmare in terms of remembering details and how everything interrelates. There’s only so much that ‘(…)’ can cover. I’ve probably contradicted myself multiple times, but hey, it’s the first draft! It’s fine, right? Right?? That’s a nightmare for future me to deal with (in your face, future me!)
ETA: Since writing the above paragraph, I actually re-read some of the earliest parts I wrote and discovered that I described a character as dead, but then later on have described him as alive! Just a slight contradiction… I think I need to start finding a better way to keep track of such things.
Anyway, present me will just carry on for now – getting the words (and placeholders for words) down on the page. I’m hopeful that in another 3 months’ time I might have something vaguely approaching half of a novel. Half of a bad novel with a load of gaps in, but that’s still better than anything I’ve managed previously.