Monday 1st May 2017

By my calculations, I have written over 20,000 words this weekend.  That’s taking into account Friday’s drunken antics, Saturday’s social and Sunday’s sparring.  But at the end of it, in this the 100th edition of The Climb, I can finally say it:
The first draft of book 2 is done!
As you can imagine, I’m shattered.  I’d planned to celebrate tonight by going to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 but I was so tired I just didn’t have the energy.  Perhaps tomorrow night.  After all, I now have time on my hands!
This has proved a difficult book to write.  Sequels are always tricky and there’s a level of expectation with this novel that I’ve never had before.
So what have I learnt?
First and foremost:  the day job seriously impacts my writing.  This has taken way longer than other novels I’ve written and it’s mainly because the day job robs time and mental energy.  If I’m ever in a position to write full time, there will be a marked increase in my productivity greater than simple number of hours.
Secondly, that this novel has some major flaws with one of its subplots.  You’ve probably heard me moan about some of the secondary characters over the past few weeks.  They all relate to this subplot.  Book 2 has a very big cast and this draft has highlighted to me that  there’s further work to be done.
But that’s OK.  Most people don’t even start on their sequel until the first book is sold.  I already have a workable draft.  Because it is workable.  Don’t get me wrong, there were times today where I genuinely believed I wouldn’t be able to finish the novel due to plot knots.  I even ended up going to bed to sleep on it for a short time this afternoon.  But I figured it out, and did so in a way that will help strengthen this subplot.
Just as well given that this draft comes in at 132,000 words.  That’s about 20k short of what I was aiming for, but I figure that expanding the  secondary characters, putting in some description (that always gets missed in the first draft) and fixing some of the subplot issues, should bring it closer to that.
I ‘ve definitely noticed my growth as a writer in this.  I believe this is the first new book I’ve written in 2 years.  I wonder if I would have spotted the same issues if I’d written it 2 years ago.  I definitely think that if I had, I would have had less confidence about being able to fix them.  I’d probably be having some form of breakdown and talking about a broken novel.
What I have is a fairly solid draft and a good idea of where the issues lay.
So what now?  What happens with the book?
Well, I forget about it.  I suspect the first chance I’ll get to look at it will be July but it could be much later than that.  I’ll then dust it off and read it afresh, trying to fix the issues for a solid draft 2.0.
There’s a weird feeling you get as a writer when you finish a draft.  It’s a bit like those walkways at airports where you step off and feel your momentum carrying you forward.  You feel you should be writing but find you have nothing to write.  And your head has been so much in the world of your novel for the past few weeks and months that trying anything else just feels… weird.
So I find that for a good few days after finishing a draft I’m walking around in a semi-zombie state, feeling like I should be doing something but not sure what.
It’s a time to recharge the creativity banks, to read those books you’ve not had time to read, to watch those TV series you’ve been promising yourself, to play those games you’ve just not had time to try.  I tried to play some Skyrim but found myself restless and unable to really play.
Several people have asked me what I plan to do with The Climb once the draft was done.  The Climb was never just about writing this draft but following my entire journey as a writer .  The answer is that I plan to carry on with editions.
In two weeks I go to Canada for what is likely to prove an incredible road trip, even if we end up missing every storm we chase.  I have a short story I need to work on for an anthology, and let’s not forget the editorial comments for book 1 which are due any time soon.
The future is going to be just as busy, if not more so, so there’s going to be plenty to discuss.
But I think it would be remiss to get to The Climb #100 and not say anything about the process.  When I started this, it was an experiment to document  my journey as a writer and the trials and tribulations that came along with it.  Just writing an extra 500 – 1000 words each day, get it edited, and ensure I have a picture has been a challenge that has pushed me at times.
On top of this there has been the actual work.  The writing, the fretting over scenes, the worries about marketing.  It’s been a lot of hard work to do this, whether it’s been getting in at 1am and then needing to draft something vaguely understandable, or finding the honesty in myself about a topic when I know I might catch shit for it.
Publishing has changed a lot in the time since I made a serious effort to try and go pro, and it’ll continue to change.  How we as writers market ourselves will change because of that.  I think those that are able to adapt will ultimately have the most success.  I want to do this as a fulltime job and so I’ve pushed myself way outside my comfort zone to try various things knowing all too well that most of them will fail.
I doubted whether I’d really be able to keep up a daily blog or whether it would find an audience, but I’ve seen numbers grow over the last few months as day after day  I’ve told you my story.
We’re only 100 days in.  This is but a taster.  We’ve not even finished the prologue.  There’s so much more journey to go.  I hope you’ll continue to join me as we move into summer and all the success and trials that brings.
If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

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