As we all emerge from the dark and wondrous cavern that is NaNoWriMo with blood of the 50k-Words-Monster dripping down our swords and straining our armor, we are all exhausted but proud of our victory. Even if you didn’t quite kill the Monster, perhaps you cut off a 10.000k leg, or you brought it so close to death you could almost taste it, but life outside the cave was calling and you just didn’t have the time to finish the job. And so the Monster is left to lick its wounds until you return next year to face a newly regenerated 50k-Word-Monster. Whatever you accomplished this November, I salute your effort and courage.
But between now and our return to battle next year, there is a lot more work to be done. Everyone knows a project doesn’t get finished just by doing NaNoWriMo once a year. There are few books that are 50k long and even those that are still have a lot of re-writes and editing left before they can be proudly presented to the world, and as with most things in life, I find the best way to approach all this work is by setting goals and making a plan.
I managed 65.000 words this November, which means I made it to the fifth chapter of the approximately 24-chapters-long Perrinne Legacy; Book One. However, I don’t have the luxury of continuing work on this again until Camp NaNoWriMo, because NaNoWriMo was a break from my main WIP – Spiralling – which all my attention will return to on Monday.
This is both exciting and terrifying. I love Spiralling, but the MC is a lot more different from me than Parker from the Perrinne Legacy. I’ll have to jump back into a whole other mindset with the knowledge that my 2019 self-induced deadline to have Spiralling published is coming closer and closer with nerve-wrecking speed. I recently got one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten; I was congratulated on being one of very few people who set truly achievable goals. Since I’m very particular about that, it was nice to be recognized for it. I do set goals that I can reach, but that is what makes the fast approach of next year so terrifying. I know that I can do all the things I’m supposed to do next year in order to get closer to my goal. But actually doing them is going to be hard and it’s going to be scary. Thank gods I have this blog to help me work through it all without going insane.
Finish Draft Two and RE-OUTLINE!
I know – draft two of Spiralling was supposed to be finished before NaNoWriMo. But some stuff happened and the story grew and became just a little more complicated, so now my new goal is to finish draft two by February. See, the problem is that while I did outline Spiralling before starting draft one, now that I’ve done a really great outline for Perrinne Legacy I realize that first outline was shit. It was weak and half-assed and resulted in massive plot-holes that I then had to discover and fix in draft two. This is why so many new aspects of the story presented themselves in draft two, and why it’s taking so much longer to finish.
So once I finish this confusing beast that is Draft Two, I will spend a few weeks to a month outlining Spiralling again from scratch. Knowing everything I know now and using that for new character profiles and plot point notes, I will map out the whole story with every important detail from start to finish, so that this mess is cleaned up before I begin the third draft.
Start AND Finish Draft Three
Because I will spend so much time and effort re-outlining Spiralling, draft three should only take half as long to write as draft two, and because I already have two previous drafts to work with, the writing itself should hopefully have improved, as well, which is quite important because I recently decided that instead of doing four drafts before sending Spiralling to beta-readers, I want to do such a good job with the new outline that draft three will do. So in draft three I need to make sure that all the problems I’ve seen with Spiralling need to be fixed. Any relationships I don’t think are fleshed out enough, any conflicts I think are too obviously solved, remove any story lines that really don’t need to be there. All of these things need to be done in draft three, because afterwards comes the truly terrifying stage.
Some time next year – probably in the late fall – I will start looking for and recruiting beta readers. This terrifies me, not only because I have heard so many of my writer-friends talk about how difficult it can be to find and keep beta-readers, but because I have not had many opportunities in life to have my writing read by strangers. Most people who read my work know at least a little bit about me. I just can’t even imagine how strangers will interpret my writing, or what it reads like when you have no personality of the author to base your interpretations on.
While getting intentionally judged by strangers is a truly frightening thought, I am actually more worried about the unstable nature of humans. See, I love to have a plan. Schedules, organization, routines – I need these in order to stay functional. I need systems in order to regain some control over this chaotic world, but other people do not work on my schedule! Beta-readers will have their own lives that I know nothing about. They will be late with their feedback or drop out unexpectedly or just stop writing me back for no fucking reason, leaving me to wonder if they’re dead or just forgot about my novel entirely. That unpredictability is truly the part I am most afraid of – and, of course, that everyone will absolutely hate my novel, but that’s just what we writers do.
I want to do two rounds of beta-readings from strangers before putting it through a group we have of people in our Writer’s Group who often beta-read each other’s work. Since that makes three rounds of betas, I don’t expect this process to be finished in 2018, but I certainly expect to get the ball rolling.
The moment beta-readings are done and all the edits based on the feedback are done, I’ll get to the professional edit which will both bankrupt and destabilize me, but that’s a worry to be saved until 2019!
All of this can be overwhelming and terrifying, but I have my writer’s group and critique partners to keep me motivated, and I have this blog to keep me sane, so there’s no doubt in my mind that if can just avoid crumbling under pressure, then all of this is doable. And on the bright side, it’s December! So for a little while our world will be lit with twinkling lights and glittering decorations to help outshine the self-doubt and fear of failure.
If you set goals as religiously as I do, then I wish you good luck as you map out your plan for next year and even more luck in reaching every single point. If you don’t set any goals at all and just take things as they come and see what happens, then I am very jealous at how your brain works and won’t even pretend that I’m laid-back enough to understand it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, for once I don’t have a novel to write because my parents are visiting and I’m taking a little break after NaNoWriMo and won’t go back to writing until Monday. But I do have other shit that needs doing so until next time,