I’m not troubling myself to look back for it, but some time ago I announced that I would use the start of National Novel Writing Month as the trigger for beginning my own novel. I also said that I would certainly not be done in a month, and I’m sticking to that declaration even as I wriggle my way out of actually getting the novel going today. There’s a few things I need to tie up before I go face-down into a ream of blank pages.
Foremost, I’m going to finish the second draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade,” because if I don’t I’ll leave it to go moldy in some corner like a couple of other things I’ve walked away from during the first draft. I’m not expecting huge commercial success out of the story, but unlike those other projects, this one isn’t inherently flawed. I just started it later than I should have, and there’s no reason it should stifle in its crib because I was a little off in my timing.
There’s also a little bit of research that I was dumb enough to imagine I had plenty of time to look into and thus put off… several times. This is less of an issue than the previous point, and to a large extent I can adjust the novel to allow for the results of the research even if I start right now, but since that previous point is in play, I’m not going to start right now.
I’m also slightly undecided about what pen I’m going to be using for the great project; another matter which procrastination has handled roughly and, alas, without proper consent. There’s several candidates vying for the position. Since I envision (dream/suffer a delusion of) doing some work over weekends as well as my weekday routine, I got into a stupid indecision vortex about maybe having two pens in operation for the length of the project, which hasn’t helped matters. Whatever pen gets chosen, it will not be the TWSBI Eco, as it has recently opened up a tiny crack at the molding seam along the mouth of the section. My prediction of durability hasn’t, sadly, borne fruit, and I will have to bug TWSBI about the matter. The pen or pens will be of moderate size and have a built-in filler; I’m not messing about with cartridges, converters or syringes in this pursuit.
I do, at least, know what ink I’m going to be using. I am down to 4ml of the Diamine Prussian Blue I’ve been applying to my writing for the last… year and a half, at least, and the discovery that it actually costs less to order bottles of ink from England than to stop in at the local Staples for some Quink moved me to whistle for a bottle of Oxford Blue from Diamine; this is even now bobbing across the ocean’s billows to reach me, and should be here before I get to the bottom of the Prussian Blue.
For those who wonder about such things, the paper will be the cheap and abundant Hilroy refill paper (so cheap, in fact, that they don’t even have it on the page for refill paper on their site). It feathers only a little, doesn’t show through much, and is cheap and readily available. These latter two points are important, because I may need more than a thousand sheets of the stuff.
“All of which is fascinating, of course,” the ear of my imagination picks up, “but will you ever mention what the book is about?” Well, like any other writer in the early phases of the illness, I suffer from a raging paranoia that someone will steal my ideas!!, despite full conscious awareness that even if I gave a detailed synopsis, no other writer would produce what I’m intent upon. So, let me give the merest bare-bones description of what I have in mind– a murder mystery, in which an experienced detective is faced with evidence of a killer possessing supernatural powers. Said killer will not, by the way, be a vampire of any degree of sparkle, nor will the setting stray particularly from the real world except in the area of MO– the aim is more of a Wallander thing with a leavening of one small flapping corner on our accepted reality. The working title shall be The Impossible Bodies.
Oh, yes, that reminds me– I’m also planning to adjust the progress reports somewhat. Tedious as they may be, I find that public declarations of action are very helpful to keeping myself on task, but I think I’ll probably just give a week’s page count rather than a daily one while the novel is the thing that is underway. It won’t be any more or less boring for my long-suffering blog-followers, but it will save me a little bit of typing which only indirectly advances the project.
Finally, a bit of a prognostication about when I might be done. Let’s look at the spreadsheet I use to track my progress (I’ve learned from reading the online thoughts of some writers that obsessive nit-pickery is not uncommon, so this seems less weird than it did when I started):
Remember how I spent the beginning of 2015 slaving away on that “Choose Your Own Eldritch Horror” project? That’s where the discontinuity between first draft production and finished output comes from. However, I’m taking the trend to mean that I can get this thing through its first draft by spring of next year, and perhaps even knock the thing into submittable shape before the end of summer. I don’t expect my pace of production to pick up a LOT from where it is currently, but if I can actually apply some evening/weekend time to the campaign, this seems manageable for a moderately-sized novel; not much beyond novella, perhaps, but sufficient. The point of the chart is less to show that I will be able to meet an arbitrary deadline, than to prove that the lunch-hour chipping away at the rockface of creativity actually produces palpable results. At very least, by this time next year, I’ll have a well-formed book ready to show to the world.
Then we’ll enjoy the horrors of trying to get it sold. This is not a mere exercise in creative “Can I Do It?”
That’s it, then. Not actually begun, but moving to the blocks. It’s a good thing I’m also the one firing the starter’s pistol.