Congratulations. We did it. We’re passing the start line for another year. I think we all deserve a certificate. Maybe even a rosette.
I won’t say 2021 has been fun, but there have been some good moments, which compared to 2020 says a lot. It was a year of consolidation for me, and yes, that’s as unexciting as it sounds. I’ll keep this brief as I promised I wouldn’t blog until I had finished my book… that was five years ago now.
The last decade has been a difficult time for me, but I write that knowing a lot of people had it far worse, and I have many blessings to counter what I went through. I’ll say for now, I felt down, and leave it at that. I’ll write more another time. When I know how best to. Nothing I went through is different or more unusual than what millions around the world go through every day and although people share deeply personal information on social media as a matter of course these days, and terms such as depression, anxiety, melancholy get thrown around so easily, it’s difficult to appreciate what the reality of negative thoughts can be. That’s why it’s important for me to consider how to approach the subject. Maybe I’ll decide to share my feelings in another form, maybe through a character in a short story. And maybe I won’t at all! I don’t know yet.
Back to the book - why has it taken me so long?
Let’s not hold back here. I’m not very good. There’s nothing self-deprecating about that. I feel I’m better than when I started, and that’s positive, but I’m under no delusions. I don’t believe I have a unique voice or a more creative storytelling ability than the most average of writers, but ultimately it comes down to writing being the only thing I remember ever wanting to do, and regardless of outcome, it is the process and the work that is meaningful. We’re all wired to have a sense of achievement when we complete a task, and even if what I write isn’t great, as long as it doesn’t stink to high Heaven, I feel a sense of achievement. That’s really the only motivation I have - in the sense of fulfilling the potential of my inner self. I’m talking about that thing inside that makes you, you, and me, me. Regardless of whatever happens in my life, the circumstances by which I survive the world like everybody else, at the end of my time I want to see a handful of novels with my name on the cover. And I’m not talking about being published. I don’t feel I’m good enough to be published and I don’t feel bad saying that. Maybe I will be one day, who knows, but I’m not pretending to myself. If I put in the hours and produce something that reaches the level I am capable of, I feel that’s enough for now. And the last couple of years have reminded me that’s all I have to worry about. Life is hard enough as it is without setting myself up to failure with unrealistic expectations. A friend told me last year that simply getting through the day is a cause for celebration. That’s now my motto.
Anyway. Here’s the update:
· I wrote almost 800,000 words.
· The book is divided into 12 chapters.
· I have scraped entire sections and secondary storylines because I tried to include too much - it was overkill and should have been separate stories.
· I repeated myself so many times it’s hard to believe I didn’t have medically registered memory loss.
· I did too much pointless research.
· My first complete start to finish draft was only completed at the end of November.
· That was just over 500,000 words.
· Once I tidied that up, it was 400,000 words.
· Now I’m editing it in a linear fashion all the way through, rather than chapter by chapter, it’s down to 350,000 words. I’m halfway through.
· I want to get it down to 250,000 words if I can.
· I’m utterly fed up of it and can’t wait to finish it and start the next one.
· Overall, it is the story I wanted to tell when I first had the idea so I’m pleased.
· Overall, it’s not very good, but there are sections I’m proud of.
· I have an understanding of the discipline, isolation, and grind needed to complete long works. The experience gained by attempting this has been worth it.
When it is finished and I’ve gone through the formal submission process (again, not to be defeatist, but facing life as it is - I’m not expecting this to be published - at some stage I will self-publish it) I’ll write an in-depth blog post on the lessons I have learned. There are some obvious ones, such as the importance of using editing software, but I’ll take it step by step. I do believe that the only way to learn, is to do, and that’s why I’m not worried about the fact it has taken me 5 years. I have taken a great deal from the process, and even if it doesn’t show in this work, I hope it will in my next book.
Have a safe 2022.
P.S - I have a title that everyone is going to hate. I think the 5 years was worth it just for that.