something to cross off my bucket list


As I’ve alluded to in a couple of previous posts, I’ve been busy with a major writing project. Long story short (pun partially intended), at 9:57 pm on Monday night, I completed my first novel. Now, I’ve written short stories before. Some of them are (or have been) published in various online venues. One was included in an ebook anthology from Untreed Reads. And there are still a few sitting on my hard drive, yet to be seen by the reading public. But a novel? Well, I’d started a few of those, but never finished. Never even got halfway finished. In fact, I don’t think I ever got past the 10% completed mark on any of them. So, needless to say, this was a big deal for me.

A little history: I started this novel in December 2010. That’s when the file containing the manuscript was created. True to form, I didn’t get very far with it before quitting. Sometime last year, I got it in my head that I needed to get my ass in gear and get to work on it. So in the spring of 2012, I started in on it again. I tried to write some every day. Some days were better than others. By the fall, I was just past halfway done when I realized that I hated this book. It sucked. Best to not waste any more time on it. So I tossed it aside and went to work on… nothing.

This spring I was reading an article by some novelist in which he stated that he always reaches a point where he hates every novel he writes. But he just powers through and gets it done anyway. So I figured it was time to go back to work. To that end, every day I’d open the file containing my manuscript. Some days I worked on it. Most, not at all. Pathetic.

A few months back, I was reading writer Dean Wesley Smith’s blog, when I saw a post wherein he announced his intention to blog his experiences writing a novel. He’d post his progress every day so we could all see how he goes about his business. The target length of the novel was 70k words. His time frame: 10 days. Yeah, you read that right, he planned to write a 280 page novel in 10 days. Then he went and did exactly what he was going to do. I was impressed.

So I got my novel out and started pecking away at it. If Mr. Smith could do 7k words a day, I could at least write… some. But it was a slow slog. Then, earlier this summer, Mr. Smith did it again. This time he was going to blog his writing progress on a daily basis for the next year, starting on August 1st.

I decided it was time I was more goal-oriented in my writing. So I set a daily writing goal of 1000 words a day on work days and 2000 words a day on days off. A few times I came up short. Most days I hit my target. Often times, I exceeded it. Sometimes by a lot. From the beginning of August until typing “The End” on Monday night, I wrote about 28k words. Total word count is just shy of 75k. And I wrote more than a third of that in 19 days. While holding down a full time job. For all I know, the book is complete crap. But I finished, dammit!

Okay, now a bit about the book. It’s a heist story. It’s told in first person with a criminal protagonist. Think Richard Stark’s Parker, as written by Jim Thompson. As I mentioned above, it clocked in at just under 75k words, which translates to about 300 pages.

What I have now is a first draft. I wrote it over such a long period of time, I’m certain there are a number of problems with it. There are probably some inconsistencies. And some themes that were important to me in the beginning fell by the wayside later in the book. Plus, there are probably the usual spelling, punctuation and grammar error, not to mention overused words and phrases. So there is more work to be done. But not yet. I’m going to let some time pass before I look at it again. That way I’ll have a fresh perspective on it. In the meantime, I have some other projects to work on.