How long to write my first novel

Since the pitching workshop I attended in April, I have been fretting about how long it is taking me to write my first novel. I was told not to mention that I have been working on it for four years now.

I have decided there is nothing wrong with how long it is taking me. Why? Most first novels take around 5-10 years to write. J.K. Rowling took 5 years to write “The Philosopher’s Stone” and 2 years of editing happened before it went to print! For more stats on writing the first novel, I found this article interesting.

During the past four years, WHILE writing my novel, I’ve had karate classes and tests; I suffered through health challenges; I became a Certified Associate of Project Management; I managed many projects; I became a LEAN Green Belt; I switched karate styles; I lived through major home renovations; I struggled through a failing marriage that ultimately had to end; my workplace became overly stressful with job uncertainty; I took a new job in a new city where I hardly knew anyone; I changed martial arts; and I took up roller derby.

I don’t think I’m doing poorly at finishing my first novel. I’m also intending it as the start of a series and every decision I make can have rippling effects upon the rest of the series. I’m not letting that challenge get in the way of my writing, but writing isn’t just the actual act… your brain needs to be involved. You need to constantly think about everything.

While I hope to power through the rest of my novel, I don’t want to finish for the sake of completing it. I want to savor it. I want my readers to enjoy sinking their teeth into it (figuratively speaking, of course). I feel like if I love writing it, it’s more likely that my readers will love reading it. I’m not writing it simply to say, “hey, look what I did.” I’m writing it for other people to enjoy.

When I get blocked, I edit previous chapters. Looking back helps me reconnect with the story and its characters.

I often feel like I will need to go back and do more in-depth character work to round out the text. My method of writing may seem disorganized and chaotic, but I’m pushing forward. Some days I write many words and others I spend with my mind deep in thought on the predicament I’ve placed my characters into.

Not many people finish writing a novel. It’s a long process. I think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint.

This article suggests that the most important quality a writer must have isn’t talent, but stubbornness. I believe I have talent, determination, and just the right amount of insanity to make it as an author.

In life, I find that the best things take time to unfold.

Ciao
R~

Baby I’m back!

So my writing on this blog has been extremely sporadic. In the beginning I didn’t like to blog, so it seemed like a chore. In fact, with this blog in particular, I felt like I should be writing my novel instead of writing a silly blog about writing my novel. I think occasionally writing this blog helped me stay on track with my novel though, so it isn’t silly, but a tool to help me finish it. Since I’ve copied all of the old posts from an old location, I’m glad I didn’t write too much previously. Recently, I’ve come to enjoy blogging.

LIFE

Life has been pretty crazy. In November 2011, I suffered a loss that was very difficult to bounce back from. It was something that only another woman could truly understand. There are few things in this world that I would say that about.

After the divorce, I continued to live in the same house with my ex for about a month and that had it’s own unique stresses. Despite how everything turned out, I don’t hate him and I don’t think he hates me either. We grew up together and part of that growth included discovering that we couldn’t be what each other needed in a partner and staying together any longer would have destroyed any chance of a future friendship. I’m not meaning to speak on his behalf, but just stating how I see things.

I moved out of the house eventually into a condo in my home town, which was hard to fit half of a house into. I downsized my belongings. During that time, my workplace was being divested, and I was reacting to nearly everything I ate. Food had become the scariest thing to me. I was starving often because it got so difficult to find anything to eat. Because I was reacting to so much and I’m a fairly logical and analytical type, I was looking at the things they had in common. I wrongly supposed that I was reacting to one thing rather than a combination of several. The one thing that just about everything has in common is corn. So I avoided corn for quite some time. I’d still have wicked reactions involving me writhing in full body pain wanting to scream from simply having something like a soda. There were days where I would go to the grocery store and leave empty-handed because I was terrified.

The thing that helped me get through those times was watching hockey. I became a Montreal Canadiens fan in 2013. I chose the Canadians for many reasons. My dad grew up watching Jacques Plante, so I could talk to him about hockey a little. We didn’t talk hockey too much because my dad grew to hate it since it was the only thing that was on TV when he was a kid because of the limited channels. Yeah, my dad is getting old. I also like the Canadiens because they’re not the tallest players in the league and they love to scrap. Scrappy underdogs. I also had a crush on someone who’s favourite team is the Canadiens. I’m human, sorry if that fact shocks anyone.

One of my friends asked me what I was sticking around my home town for? I was single, my job was being divested, and a bigger city would have more help for my food issues. The girl I was in high school would have already have thought of that on her own, but I was a broken shell of myself. I started considering leaving, but where would I go? I didn’t like the idea of Toronto at all. Every time I visit that city I nearly get attacked. I’m also not big on sky scrapers as I like looking at the sky. I contemplated Waterloo, but I felt like there wasn’t enough lifestyle there for me. I wanted a place that was small yet big and that led me to Ottawa.

I managed to find a job in my field that didn’t require the ability to speak French. My first out of town move was hard. I still had too much stuff and early on I had to move in stages. I moved close to work into a place with roommates. I lived at home during college, so it was my first roommate experience. It wasn’t horrible until the land lady started going crazy. Part of me feels like I could have done without this experience as I was still reeling from the divorce, food issues, and I was pretty sick in May. It was an interesting learning experience that I am thankful is done with.

I started looking for a place I could afford to buy with the assets I had, which wasn’t much for the Ottawa real estate market. I briefly contemplated moving to Rockland, ON as the houses are quite affordable, but it felt too far away to be working in Ottawa. I briefly thought about Gatineau, QC as it’s also affordable, but I felt it was far and strange. It’s also confusing to work in one province and live in another come tax time and with the divorce I wasn’t sure how taxes would be.

I made one last temporary move to get away from crazy lady and thankfully those roomies were cool people. Prior to leaving the house of crazy, I joined roller derby because though most of May was crappy, attending Comiccon lead to me braving the bar alone and I met AxxiDent’s sister. It was an interesting experience as I had never been to a burlesque show before. Browncoat’s is a fun troupe. I dig how they make the ultra nerdy sexy. At any rate, my new friend told me that she thought I should join roller derby as it would help me meet more people in Ottawa and she thought I may make a good jammer someday. My response was, “There’s roller derby in Ottawa?!”

So, I went to a bout at Barbara Ann Scott arena. Slaughter Daughters were playing. I found the info for fresh meat on the wall and I’ve been doing derby ever since.

NOVEL:

On the book front, I was stuck for quite some time. I had two versions of the start of my second half and had trouble deciding where to go from here. I’m still working through that. 

The thing with writing a novel is that each decision you make creates new challenges and closes doors potentially. Extra complications come in when you intend to write a series as is my intention because there are many more things to be mindful of. Consistency is a big thing with a series. Some might say, “just write”, but there’s more to it than that. Today’s publishing world is big on having work pre-edited, especially by new authors. If I don’t want to spend a fortune on an editor, I need to get it as polished as can be before getting an agent and having them get me a publisher.

I say all that, but there is some value to, “just write”. Recently, this part of my book has been difficult because I had been trying to get too detailed in an area that doesn’t matter. A hurricane or tropical storm hits on the open water and makes things bad for my characters, but I was trying to pick which storm and it really doesn’t matter because so many were in that area over several months that I can leave that bit to Hollywood if it ever gets there. The readers won’t care whether it’s Hurricane Florence or Hurricane Sandy. What’s important is what the characters do, how they feel and experience the storm, and what happens after it. I’m still working on what happens after it, but hopefully it’ll be something awesome.

Given all of the life stuff and moves, I haven’t gotten a whole lot farther if you go by number count, but I’ve had a lot of experiences that can only improve my writing.

So what’s my novel about? It’s a soft sci-fi tale about a boy who’s alien and yet not. He has to leave his home in order to stay alive because he’s a pretty big deal.

Sorry for the essay. I had a lot to say. Geez, if I could write this much on my book every day, I’d be done by the end of February. It’d be nice, but highly unlikely. I’ll update soon with a word count and the like.

Ciao
R~

2012!

I’ve been quite busy, so I haven’t been updating this blog. My novel is hovering at the 50% mark or 25,000 words. Yay! So while I haven’t been blogging, I have been writing, a lot.

Life has been pretty crazy in the past 9 months. The company I work for is being divested and many of us feel like we are stuck in a slow death. The hubby and I are applying for other opportunities and may relocate. Several friends have had or will be having their first babies soon.

It has been a little hard to focus on my writing, as last week we received the first concrete date given of anything in the divestment process, and so I having been thinking about my career lately. I am trying to find telecommuting options for myself, so we can be wherever my husband needs for his next job, and so I’ll be less likely to end up in this situation again. I am working on putting together a Writer’s Resume for myself.

I am also trying to figure out what to say about my novel when people ask the inevitable, “What is it about?”, question. It’s about a boy who is different–Doesn’t that sound like almost every other story?–and he has a huge task to fulfill (hello Harry Potter, Jesus, etc). I know what I need to divulge to sell it, but I’m not ready to tell anyone until the book is “complete”. Then I can approach an agent and get into meetings with publishers, if I go the traditional route, or I can self-publish and risk no one bothering to read it at all. I’m hoping to have people proofread sections that are in their area of expertise, before I get looking for an agent, but I don’t want too many people to read the full novel until it’s in stores. Maybe that’s odd, but it’s precious to me.

At a birthday last night someone told me that they thought it was a pretty big deal to decide to write a novel and were impressed. I found it interesting because the person is around 30 and recently decided to apply to law school, which I think is impressive.

I’m currently in another research phase, but I’ll be done it soon. I’ll be back writing my novel shortly, and hoping I can finish it before I’m out of a job. I’m not too worried about having a job, as I have other skills besides my writing. Writing is what I want to do to make a living and break free from the hamster wheel called office work. I feel like when I can spend my days writing, I will finally feel like I’m doing something important with my life. Maybe I’ll just go up a level on Maslow’s hierarchy, but it has to be better than this.

Ciao
R~

Purpose

The purpose of this blog is to track the many hours of writing for my novels, short stories, and anything else I end up writing.

I began my novel, Scion (formerly titled The Truth About Jacob) on May 15, 2010.  To date I have 46 what I would call publishable pages and a whole lot of other “stuff” that is written but isn’t really readable yet, a collection of post-it scribbles and a mass of thoughts in my head about what I want the story to aim towards. I realize 46 pages does not seem like very much from then to now, but I am only able to write part-time as I also like to eat food and working pays for that.

I have no intention to get into the meat of the novel here as I intend to publish it someday (hopefully sooner rather than later) and would like to play it close to my chest for now. It’s basically in pre-alpha stage. Just know that it will be fictional and exciting, I hope. Also, I have a copyright already for it.

Other than capturing quick updates from my tweets, I intend to post about my challenges, uncertainties, needs, thoughts, and feelings about writing this novel. I expect such themes as work-life balance, writing time vs family time, and writing time vs “field experience” to enter into this blog.

My next posts will be more exciting… I promise! Or they will only be tweets as I will be busy writing I hope (though I have some job stuff to focus on and karate to practice, as well as, a husband to love) – there’s all of that balance stuff from above coming into play.

***EDIT***

No longer married, unless you count roller derby.

Ciao
R~