On New Year’s Eve, just last year, I finished my first novel.
I’m going to pause to let that sink in and give your mind time to swirl around with all the ideas of what that could potentially mean.
Now I’m going to tell you how it went and what I’m looking at ahead of me, and at the end we’ll see if your head is still running down the midway of the Imagination Fair, or if it’s fallen asleep on its desk in the Study Hall of Reality.
Much like anybody who’s got a novel inside of them, I’ve always had a novel inside of me. Well, lots of them I suppose, but there was one that I’d actually wanted to write for quite a long time now. Ever since I met my wife really, as it was such a asskickingly romantic tale that it needed told.
Well, I’d run through some outlines a few times, bandying about ideas like those wet strands of spaghetti that you fling against the splashback tiles to see if it’s done, but I’d never actually sat down and written anything. I had plenty to go with, but nothing having gone.
Then, through the magic of Facebook, I reconnected with a good friend of mine from my earliest career job, Scott. Good ol’ Scooterberry humbly and aw-shucksy walked me through how he started a cool coding 3D-CAD software company, sold it to Google who then made Sketch-Up out of it, made a little girl named Audrey and is writing novels.
Well, one novel anyway. One that he reckons he didn’t have the juice to get done until somebody smacked him in the face with their glove and challenged him to a duel. Well, a race really. And he probably wrote a few novels worth of short stories and LARP (powernerd gaming) characters. He also designed the shit out of many websites and somehow casually created an entire Content Management System in his spare time (4 years before other web companies started marketing theirs).
So he’s a little bit brilliant, and he’s still my friend. Go figure. We used to spend hours, HOURS, playing foosball at a crappy old table in our old web employer’s offices before the Fall of the Dot Coms. We used to trade insults and compliments that were frequently interchangeable and typically consisted of some manner of description of intercourse.
I begged and pleaded and Scotty sent me a copy of his novel. It was awesome. I mentioned I wanted to write one too. He called me a “pussy” if I didn’t. Well, he actually said something along the lines of “Join me! We’ll race to write 50,000 words by the end of November, and if you don’t make at least 6,000 words a week, you’re a pussy!”
How could I resist? So, I roped in the doc-in-law, Scotty grabbed two of his mates, and we were off. Sort of like NaNoWriMo, except 2 months instead of 1.
The first bit was GREAT, with everybody throwing around character bios and story outlines, and giving each other feedback on what’s probably going to work and how we hope the other novels will end.
Then somebody’s busy with house renovations. Then somebody else has to fly to Antarctica because they’re the only geologist that can save the penguins or some shit. Then inspiration sits in the hot tub while the rest of us are cleaning up after the party.
Bit of a bummer. But we plugged on. After about 5 weeks, I think I was the only one to never miss my word counts. Just for fun, I did 3,000 words one week to see if I got called a “pussy”. I didn’t’. Heh.
End of November hit, and nobody really had anything other than Scotty, who had taken much of that time to revise the novel he’d already written. Well, unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, knownst only to wife really, I had set a goal to finish my novel by the end of the year. December hit, and I was still writing.
My style changed as I went along, particularly after a friend, a published friend, told me I was good at dialogue. Over the moon, I started writing more dialogue. I don’t know about you, but 6,000 words a week is a LOT, particularly when you’re doing things other than writing. When December hit, I went at my own pace, sometimes only 1,500 words in a week, but I was writing for the story, not for the word count.
Then the story changed on me. It got longer and the ending was different. My character developed into something that I hadn’t outlined and his relationships went even more in-depth. It was great. It was the kind of fun that I can only describe as “soul fulfilling”.
My soul was happy. I was writing and writing and my soul was doing great.
And I was getting there. But then the year was ending. The kids were all staying at grandparents and I’d taken the week off for work, so I had sat down to write. And write. And wife cheered me on, and we were even a bit lax in our social commitments, just so I could write.
Well, I did it. On New Year’s Eve, I finished.
And I haven’t even really started yet. Uffda.
Stay tuned. I shall be blogging here about where this process takes me.
Wish me luck.