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Archive for May 18th, 2017

Posted by Dirck on 18 May, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 21 manuscript pages.

I’m about, according to my own estimates, 70% finished the first draft.  This is not going as quickly as I might have hoped, although it’s not going quite as slowly as I’d feared.  I found another gap in my research today, which I should be able to comfortably fill in during the second-draft process, and this lead me off on another tangent of thought….

Part of me is beginning to yell at the other parts regarding the mechanical approach to the writing I’m following.  “Hand-written first draft?  Fine for a 4,000 word story, but on this scale… what is wrong with you?!”  I don’t think I’m going to listen to it, because as this late stage to shift to the the sort of writing production that most normal people seem to pursue these days, banging away on a keyboard rather like I’m doing right this minute, doesn’t seem possible without jumping right into the second-draft process.  Which would mean leaving the back 30% of the thing in a nebulous form while I re-write what already exists, only picking up the weaving when I travel back to this point… and I don’t know that the narrative would survive this sort of interruption of its gestation.

HOWEVER, for those who are (still, somehow) interested in this process, and for Future Me who will one day be writing another novel (I have vague outlines for at least eight, so I’d best pick up my pace), a couple of thoughts on this hand-written first draft stuff.  On the negative side, it is taking a long time, and it means second draft will also take a long time, since that won’t just be amending stupidities, but will be an entire re-write to transform marks on paper into an electronic format that editors and publishers will actually look at.  Also, as it stands now, my very-literal manuscript is a unique object; no redundancy, no off-site back-up.  This has been a source of some concern for about the past month and a half, as the imp of the perverse keeps painting pictures of fire, flood and brief-case theft.  I find that the difference of scale between a 4,000 word short story and an 80,000 word novel radically alters my ability to look at these potential disasters and greet them with an indifferent shrug.  I might well toss myself into a lake if the current heap of paper were to meet with a bad end.

The benefits of hand-written creation are still present.  I don’t go back and fiddle with specifics, so the flow of the work remains (generally) good.  I might be closer to done now if I had hit the keyboard ab initio, but I might also be only half as far along, having allowed myself to spend a full day getting one paragraph just so because the text is so malleable when it’s electronic.  Hand-writing harnesses the power of laziness in this regard, or perhaps lashes it to the power of cheapskate-ish-ness, because to do that sort of thing now would be a lot of fruitless scribbling and wasted paper.  At this point, though, I think I may have enough practice with rushing ahead on extruding the basic concept of the scenes without giving into the urge to fix things that aren’t quite the right shape that I may be able to conduct the practice in a keyboard-driven environment and thus be able to attack novel-length projects with better efficiency.

I guess we’ll see when I’m done this one.  Which… sigh… won’t be very soon.

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