I did say it wasn’t going to be long before Project #3 was out of its first draft, and here we are. It’s been a couple of weeks, and a few days ago, I decided the first draft of OFBB was complete. First drafts are rough, they’re messy, often incoherent, they might lack some substance, even some style. They need work, sometimes a lot of work, but it’s always an enormous achievement to reach this stage. For every writer, they class a first draft in different terms, and for me, a first draft is the first completed run-through of the entire story. In fact, every draft for me is a completed run-through, and to know that I’ve finished my first one is something to celebrate. It feels quite positive to end the year with a manuscript out of it’s first draft.
For NaNoWriMo, I wrote the initial 82,773 words, and we’re rounding off this first draft at 85,710. I’m definitely the kind of writer who works with a certain flow, I find my particular process works best when I’m writing in a chronological order, so I will wholeheartedly admit that this is a first draft that still has sections missing. When I know something needs to happen or a conversation needs to be had but I’m not in the mindset right at that moment, I’ll just do a little bracketed section to remind me or as a placeholder for when I come back through. There are certainly sizeable sections of this novel unwritten, I think it will definitely pass the 100,000 benchmark when we bulk it all out (which I’ll inevitably have to take down again pretty quickly), but this first draft is done, and a lot of it is written. Even if those written sections need work, we’ve got something to work with, and that’s incredibly important.
I realised, going back into the initial NaNoWriMo post, that I didn’t share many of the details of this novel. Admittedly, I probably still won’t share a whole lot. You really do have to find the balance. Oversharing can’t be redacted, so sharing small details every now and again is certainly the way to go, and here I am to share a little more.
It’s a novel that probably sits in the distinction between New Adult and Adult. It’s about a gentleman who is finding himself settled when someone returns to his life to unsettle everything again. It’s a novel about age, romance, illicit affairs of the heart, the family, and all these different versions of ourselves that we carry through our lives and how we exist as different people with different people and trying to find a way to be as true as you can whenever you can. I’d like to think it’s a complicated story with ambiguous character choices. There are certainly minor antagonists who complicate our protagonist’s life, but I’d argue the true antagonist is more of a concept (society, existence itself, pressures to conform, those sorts of things) rather than an explicit character.
In just that paragraph there, I think I’ve shared quite a lot, and I’ll also say that it’s got a rather heart-aching, bittersweet aura, which is definitely found in a lot of stories that I love. I adore complications and dilemmas, and this story is abound with them, which I find very exciting to share.
But what comes next? I will continue to advocate for the importance of letting drafts and stories sit and stew for a little while. Obviously, how long depends on the draft, the writer, the story itself, and how much your muse is poking you to continue or begging you to stop. So, I don’t have an exact date as to when I’ll return to refine everything for a better, second draft, but it’ll definitely be in the New Year. The New Year, as you might well know, isn’t exactly that far away, but sometimes even just a couple of weeks can do a story a world of good.
There are a couple of things this time away is going to be utilised for; first and foremost, rest. I am notorious for never giving myself a break. I love to write, it’s one of the most beautiful things in the world for me, but days off are crucial. And yet, it still requires a conscious effort from me to take time off. In fact, most of the time, I’ll only take time off if I’m sick or if I’m really struck with fatigue and I’ve been staring at a blank document page for four hours before deciding, hey, maybe I should just give it a rest, play some video games, hang out with the family, throw on a film and play some board games. At this time of year, pandemic allowing, of course, there isn’t a better excuse to really take some of that time. You know, I’ll probably find myself writing now and again, but I am going to actively try to not constantly be on my computer or with a notebook in hand. I’ll definitely let you know how that goes come New Year.
Secondly, and I know this almost contradicts what I just said, but I also need to let this sit in the background for a little while because there are some major aspects that need researching. I often find myself making decisions that sound great in my head and then, when I’m about to write out the scene, I realise I have no idea what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of discussion in this novel about a certain period of art history that sounds beautiful, and certainly looks beautiful too, but if I’m to come across as someone who knows what they’re talking about (as well as making sure the characters sound like they know what they’re talking about too!), then I’ve got to pore over some books, some websites, and become a little more versed in these decisions I’ve made. Some writers hate researching, and whilst not all research invigorates me, I’m looking forward to learning more. That’s one of the beauties of writing; not only do you get to create, but you actively expose yourself to concepts and history you had little to no idea about beforehand, and you get to learn, and isn’t learning a lot of what life is about?
My next post is going to be in the New Year, and I’m really excited to finish this year off. It’s had some great moments as well as some dark and gloomy ones, and I’m excited to start a new year, a new chapter, if you will. It can certainly be the perfect time for some reflection as well as thinking ahead, and that’s definitely where I’m finding myself right now.
For everyone out there, I hope you have a very happy holiday period. I know it can be a stressful time of year whether you’re celebrating or not, I know it’s not always the jolly, festive time that it’s depicted as for some people. My hopes are that, in the chaos, you find some time to relax, some time to be with those you love, some time to sing carols if that’s what you’re into and, most of all, I hope you find some time for yourself at the end of the year.