After just over ten weeks in isolation with my grandparents, I have at long last managed to carve out a work desk. In the end, I took over the disused dining table that in normal times is where big family dinners would happen, but right now has been empty for the whole time I’ve been here. I should have staked a claim on it sooner, but it’s hard doing that in someone else’s house. Now I’ve done it, I’ve no idea how I was surviving without this space. My writing got done in less than a half hour by 2pm, my best time in weeks, but also one of my fastest in months. Yes speed of writing isn’t indicative of quality, but getting out drafts fast means more content to perfect.
At 78,000 words now, TFS is a disjointed mess with some vague themes and unburied leads to plant. Gardening works as a metaphor for the later drafts of a novel, in my process at least, because the draft is all prepping the soil; at this point, I’ve not planted anything yet. The transition from first draft to second isn’t quite as simple as putting it in a drawer. Before I do that, I take my notes I made along the way, and I seed in the information from later chapters that I want to thread throughout the plot. That is the planting phase. Those seeds are the whole point of the story, and all the words I’ve written up until then are liable to purging, like you would change soil in a plant.
As the sprouts begin to emerge, which takes leaving the story for a while to grow on its own, I will make the odd adjustment to the soil. Watering and tending here is the odd tweak that comes to me, which is easier to drop in right away than add to a big list of edits. I do have that big list, but think of that more like a maybelist, thinks to keep in mind when I have a plant itself, not tweaks that fit into general maintenance. I leave the story in this state for quite a long time; I leave it so long, that TSS, WHT and even VOL are still in this phase. You might wonder why I’ve uploaded the latter two to WattPad if that’s the case. But then, no one reads my WattPad. Think of that as an extension of ‘accountability’ like I talked about 120 posts ago. People can read it, therefore I have to have content to show by certain benchmarks.
So yeah TFS is a mess. The plot is convoluted, and while the opposing forces are in-world not the best organised bunch, I want to ensure the story itself can stand. The last thing I want is a book that – back on plants here – needs one of those wooden bamboo-like sticks to hold itself up, or is so top heavy it needs bolted supports. Even fantasy books – which mine are in a weird sort of way – shouldn’t need those kind of crutches if the world is solid enough. Any plot, no matter how rich the world, should flow like an elegant and gentle sprouting branch, joined to a solid trunk or structure that is in a word, ‘themes’. After all, realism requires fluff, but the messages and themes of your work, in my opinion, should be rigid. They do also, like a tree trunk, have to be, you know, alive, so no ancient cliched messages.
I think that’s coherent in its own weird way that I tend to do. If this were a story, I’d leave this in a drawer, come back in six months and cut it down to a paragraph as I prune out the real content. Here though, nah you’re stuck with my raw stuff. It’s nice though, that I have the motivation now to churn out more of that raw content. If this keeps up, I may have another novel idea to run in tandem with the next project. Which leads into a pretty heavy topic.
I’m not writing a nice book after TFS. My original plan had me write The Whispering Rail, which is now going to be the book after next as it’s a little too similar in concept right now to TFS, so I want to develop the former a bit more before starting it. Which means the next book I write, is going to be The Wanderer. I’ve talked a little about this story, but suffice to say, where most of the series is appropriate for most ages, this is the book that isn’t appropriate for anyone. It may even keep me from having a mainstream published career. Or, it could launch it. And honestly, I hope it isn’t the latter, because that story is not what I want to be known for. I’m being vague on purpose, not to build suspense though; that’s how little I want to talk about it. So, yeah, wish me luck on that. And who knows, I might write a whole other book just as a palette cleanser.