Remember that new novel I was writing – when I last posted, I had 4 chapters written. Well, 86 days later, 20 chapters on, it is FINISHED! Today, 30th June 2020, I finished the first draft of The Hawthorn Bride. Literally this morning, at about 10.30.
Thank you Lockdown. I know it has been a hellish time for some people, but our house has had a very easy time of it. My husband has been able to keep working on-line and I’ve been being paid for staying at home. My kids are old enough to get on with their own school work with just a bit of time-management assistance required. No-one in our family has been ill. I had a touch of something flu-like around the beginning of June but a test showed it wasn’t Corona Virus. We have watched a lot of theatre from the comfort of our own home, finally got to watch the whole of Stranger Things, and I have read a good stack of books. And I have written a novel!
When I think of how long it took me to write my previous novels, it is pretty amazing. Mostly, they have taken years to complete. Even when I completed No Such Cold Thing in 30 days for Nano Wrimo, I never thought that I could write that quickly again.
But somewhere back in March, I had a realisation that, for all the years I have been writing, I have been doing it all wrong. There is no point spending months and years writing a first draft, because, no matter how long is spent on it, it is still going to need vast amounts of improvements before it is ready to be read. No-one ever wrote a perfect first draft. In fact, a first draft is probably always utter rubbish. It is the months and years of editing that make the novel good. So, I thought, why waste time polishing and perfecting as I go along, agonising over the tastiest words or subtlest symbolism. Better to just bash it out, no reviewing or editing, just keeping it moving, chapter after chapter, until it’s done. So I did just that. Obviously, I had to change things if they weren’t working, but generally, I followed the loose plan I had mind, and pretty much everything fell into place as I had expected. And now, this story that I first came up with in 1996, is an actual novel. My fifth novel. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
Well, it isn’t a finished novel, of course. The first draft is basically just the plot, holding things together. It is scaffolding. Now it’s done, I can go back and make it beautiful. That really is the fun bit. I have always loved editing. It is so satisfying to turn ordinary words into something more special. I love doing it so much that I find it hard to stop. Anyway, with this pleasure ahead of me, I can spend as long as I choose on the editing. I won’t put a time limit on it, or dare to put a date on when it might be ready for KDP, because this is the bit I don’t want to rush. And besides, I have another plan – I’m going to write something else!
Yes, now that I have discovered this highly productive and efficient way of working, I’m going to try it out on a new story. It’s going to be completely different, a break from my usual style and genre. Given the rate I’m going, it could be done by Christmas!
But that can wait a little while. First I’m going to read my fifth novel from start to finish for the very first time. That’s something to celebrate.
1st Chapter started – 26/2/20
Lockdown started– 20/3/20
Last blog posted (4 chapters completed) – 5/4/20
1st draft completed – 30/6/20
125 days (including 102 of lockdown)
24 chapters/87,000 words