Writing a novel is a long process, and a complicated one.
I was ‘invited’ to have a crack at this particular genre back at the beginning of July, I suppose, and, with other commitments on the horizon, I knew I would have to write it fast, if I was going to write it at all. I didn’t have an idea for a story of its kind, and I didn’t know whether I could or wanted to write one, so it was a case of going back to first principles.
Almost the first thing I did was set myself a deadline.
Next up was doing my research. I didn’t expect the research to be much fun, but I needed to know how the genre worked, and I needed to know whether I thought I could work within it. I decided that I could, assuming that it was OK for me to bend a rule or two and go for something a little less on the nose, a little cross-genre, if you will. That was OK, too, providing the genres were sympathetic one with another. The last question in my head was whether or not I could have some fun with it, and... you know what... I thought I just might manage that.
Then I had other work scheduled, so, having decided to do the job, and having written an outline, I finished all the other outstanding projects, and finally began to write samples. My lovely agent was happy, and I started the novel in earnest.
I’m not going to tell you exactly when that was, exactly how long ago I actually began writing this novel, because, as you know, I don’t like counting words. I don’t believe that it’s a useful exercise, and I don’t believe it adequately informs me or you, or anyone else how a job is progressing.
I will tell you that my deadline was tomorrow, Friday November 30th 2012.
Tomorrow is also the end of NanoWrimo month, and all you lovely writers taking part will be hoping to complete your projects of 50 thousand words.
I don’t know how you did, but, on this one, I have to admit failure. My novel will not (quite) be finished.
A deadline is a funny thing. It’s a guideline, and it’s one I like to stick to. I always impose them on myself, regardless of what’s imposed on me by the powers that be, and it is always my intention to stick to them. I rarely miss deadlines.
Honestly, to suggest that I’ve failed on this one is a little harsh. I’ve more than broken the back of this novel. It is in very good shape. I wanted a first draft by November 30th, and this book is already better than that. The two or three remaining chapters haven’t been written, but very soon will be. The rest of today will be devoted to them, and more will be done on my train ride tomorrow.
The book will probably be finished by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, and by Friday at the very latest. So, on a project that was begun five months ago, I’ve only exceeded my self-imposed deadline by between 1 and 3 percent, which can’t be bad, surely?
If I’d failed on NanoWrimo by between 1 and 3 percent, I wouldn’t have failed at all, because I would have made damned sure that I found the time to write those 500 to 1500 words...