There’s a famous story about Neil Gaiman phoning up his agent regarding his latest project and telling her that it was no good, that the project needed to be scrapped or he needed to start again.
“Oh,” she replied. “You always do this. You’re at that part of the novel.”
That part of the novel for me seems to be around the two thirds mark, and the urge isn’t so much to scrap but to go back and write with greater insight.
In reality there are no real wrongs or rights pertaining to writing method. There are days when words just drop from your mind onto the page like water. There are other days when they come like treacle. All you can do, as a writer, is recognise the traps and work round them.
I’m actually pretty pleased with how the project is going. The book still doesn’t have a name, The Thieving King moving to book 2 (and then that took about ten years to come up with). But for the moment I’m content for it to be known as THE Book, because for the moment, it’s the only book in my life.
For those who haven’t been following, I came to the conclusion back at the start of the summer that the book I’ve been working on (itself part of a series) was actually two books. The beginning and end had enough differences for it to feel like two books. So I took the first half and reworked it, expanding it to novel length.
So as a result, I already have the end written, and the real work was to expand the story without it just becoming a few additional adventures shoehorned in. Of course, this came with a rewrite, so it’s been more than just rewriting scenes, but pretty much rewriting the whole damn novel. Patrick Rothfuss did this with The Name of the Wind, so I don’t feel too bad about it.
Maureen’s thread has pleased me the most, her story has really benefited from the expansion. Of course, being at that stage, I worry if it’s all a little too confusing, and whether revelations from book 2 need to be moved forwards (and what will this do to the overall series story arc?). I worry about minor things too. She had a handbag when she left, where is it now? But I recognise these are all products of being at that stage. They can be fixed. I just write notes in the margin such as “where is the bag?” or “more description” or “this dialogue sucks” and move on. It can be fixed when I come to editing the book.
Darwin & Cassidy’s thread was always more mature in terms of development and I’m only just getting to the stage where the storyline deviates from the original. Again, just as I did before writing the extra Maureen material, I worry that it’s going to just feel tacked on rather than a true part of the story. Still going in with that concern, means that I’ll very conciously do all I can to avoid it. I’m sure it will be alright, and already expanding the roles of the various vampires seems to benefit the book.
The most important thing is that this book has it’s own tone and feeling, and it doesn’t feel like anything else. Yes, I have elves and dwarves but this doesn’t feel like a Tolkien rip-off (not that it ever set out to be), it feels like its own thing. It’s not Scott Lynch, or Abercrombie, or George R R Martin, it’s me, and whatever now happens I can be very proud of that fact. That might mean that ultimately, it’s not right for the publishing market, but deep down one thing I am sure about is that the book is quite commercial. I just have to write it in such a way that an editor is unable to say “no”.
I’m finding mornings are being more productive than evenings, and whereas a lost evening would just frustrate me, because I am at that stage, it’s starting to annoy me. Mornings, I can write 2000 or more words in a coupel of hours and feel happy. Evenings, I’m lucky to get 400 words of nonsense.
I need to lock myself away, get to bed early, get up early and get things done. The end is done, that doesn’t even need to be written, I just need to write up to it. The characters are also so well known, they’re not doing anything unexpected. I reckon another 20k – 30k words and I’ll be done. Book 1 will then exist with everything at the same draft. I want that, I want that today. But to get there, it does sometimes feel like I have to swim uphill in Treacle.