Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a novel?

Today I had lunch with someone from college whom I haven't seen in, well, eight years.  Since graduation, we've both decided to pursue entirely artistic, albeit different, careers.  She's an actress and I'm a mathematician.  So, maybe I lied about my field of expertise being creative.  What is true is that I aspire to be creative (hence the whole writer thing).

Somewhere between our discussion of Mr. Rochester and how shy my daughter was playing at, my drafting process for LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS (if you haven't read the first chapter yet, go here) was mentioned.  "Mentioned" is such a weak word.  "Dominated" is more like it.  My drafting process dominated the luncheon.  Sorry about that, Heather.  So as LitD conquered the conversation and the tabletop became a bloody battleground, it got me thinking about my original assumptions about drafting/writing a novel.  This is where I share my experience with you.

Original assumption:
Three drafts, one hundred query letters, and a book deal.

What was wrong with my assumption:
I'm on my third draft now and in no way do I feel LitD is ready to be sent into the world.  If I can't leave for work in the morning without trying on five different outfits, what made me think I could let LitD leave the house in fewer than four drafts?  So scratch that idea.

This is what really happened:  
I wrote the first draft of LitD in two months.  It was 87,000 words, if I remember correctly.
I changed a few scenes (dramatically) and fixed a few grammatical errors in about two weeks.  The second draft was 84,000 words.
Now, LitD is just under 83,000 words, and it has taken me about one to two hours to edit some pages.  Here's why*:

There's more.  In two months, LitD and I will attend a novel intensive.  What does that mean?  More changes.

I won't even go into why the other two parts of my original assumption are wrong.  Let's just say, I've been a tad naive.  I still am.

What I can say is that in between being disgusted with my syntax, word choice, punctuation, grammar, and everything else of which I am now more aware, I have truly enjoyed this process.  I look forward to more of it.  Promise.  Cross my fingers, hope to die.

*Here's another reason why:

My question for you:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  True or false?