In many ways, June was a funny old month. From the perspective of my overall plan for the year, June was to be the month I knuckled back down after May’s storm chasing adventures. My slow April had enforced that even more. June was the time to launch myself into a new writing project and start doing some insane first draft word count again.
But then everything changed in May.
I vaguely spoke about it last month, when I talked about Project Ultron. What I was talking about here was signing an agent and getting to work on the rewrite of Black As Knight. But at that time, everything was tentative, everything seemed so fragile where I felt one wrong step on my part – even the mere utterance of the word ‘agent’ – would make everything disappear in a puff of smoke.
I’ll go into more detail at a later date, but I first found out about the possibility of rewrites back when I was in America. I’d just come out of the cinema from seeing Age of Ultron (hence the project name) to see a reply from Caitlin asking if I’d be interested in doing rewrites.
Heck, anything that makes the book better is fine with me, and who would turn the offer to get editorial feedback from one of the best agents in the world.
We arranged it so that those editorial notes would come back after I got back, and as promised they came back on the 1st June.
I took a week to digest them, try and look at not only what was being said, but understand the issues that lay underneath. As people know I work quick. It’s helped when someone is on the same proverbial page as you on the direction of the book. The notes were excellent and within a week I had a battle plan.
Now keep in mind that whilst this all sounded amazingly good, I hadn’t signed anything, there was no guarantee of representation. Didn’t mean I wasn’t going to go and revise the work but it did mean that my head was all over the place. Consequently the first half of June was all about trying to get myself to a stage where the focus was the work.
In the meantime, ever since I’d come back from America and knew that rewrites were on the table, I’d been clearing my schedule. Social events were cancelled, geocaching was put on hold for a couple of months. I was prepared to make sacrifices for a few months so I could fully concentrate on this. I’d happily have a couple of lonely months so I could give this rewrite my everything. I decided to still keep the sword fighting if for no other reason than I’d be in the area with the day job anyway – and because I think it’s not healthy to be in your own head for too long.
I’m about 30,000 words into the rewrite now. I’ve found my word rate has dropped to about half what it was at the beginning of the year. Part of this is because the inside of my head was making fireworks at the fact I was in this unreal situation, as unreal. The other part of this was the fact that because this now mattered, I was starting to feel the weight of responsibility weigh me down.
The important thing, I told myself, was to keep going, and that’s what I’ve been doing. I reloaded the latest version of Black As Knight into Scrivener (I’d been switching to Word for editing so I had to take a few nights importing it back in and creating all the breaks). I then went through the corkboard mode and laid out the new scenes, the changes to existing scenes and the scenes that will be dropped. Because it’s a bit of a mess, I spent another evening colour coding each of the cards – yellow for new scene, blue for a revised scene and red for a scene that’ll be dropped. I made a point of leaving scenes that would be dropped in the manuscript as I realised I might want to scavenge them.
I’ve also lined up some excellent new beta readers for this round. They’ll be seeing the work fresh so it’ll be interesting to see what they make of it.
In terms of organisation, Project Ultron has pretty much shot a hole right through the hull. I’ve managed to get my Fantasy Faction article in, but I’ve got a GPSTracklog article that’s a little overdue. Most of that is down to the mania of the last month.
My processes were always such that if something big did come along, I could swap things around and it should all still work. I’d say that’s proven to be the case. I’ve just cleared everything else out the way for the time being.
I’m a little behind where I’d like to be. Real life is throwing some minor challenges that have slowed me a little (hello broken tooth!) but the beginning of Black As Knight has a lot of new scenes and it should pick up a bit as we move forward.
Best of all, I’m feeling excited about this new version. It already feels so much stronger. I’m excited by it and think it could truly be incredible. There’s some of my best work by a long shot in this book and I’m daring myself to write not just a good book, but a great book.
As you can tell, I’m very excited by Black As Knight but it still needs a lot of work. This next month will be focused purely on just that. Other projects will be jumped on once this is done, but for now the focus is on Black As Knight.