I finally finished it.
I finished the first draft of my 6th novel. It took me over a year, far longer than it should have, but it’s finally done at 412 handwritten pages.
Why did this take me so long? First was the lockdowns. I had a writing system in place at my office where I would take my lunches for writing. I could pick up my binder and my pen, find a quiet corner of the office and write without interruption for an hour. That went away when my job decided that we should all work from home and I suddenly had to take care of a baby all day while working. I eventually found a solution that was similar, but it took me a while to even acknowledge that I had a problem.
The second major reason I had such a slow down was that I realized that I had planned and written the book wrong. I was going for an adventure type of story, and I was writing it like serious literature. It didn’t work. I realized at about the time I was going through Robert Zemeckis’ films that I was essentially trying to write something like that in book form, but I was giving far too much weight to things like arcs when I realized that Marty McFly didn’t have an arc in Back to the Future. I had written two main characters each with arcs around relationships with loved ones, and it dragged the story down from fun to kind of depressing, and had even turned one of them into kind of a terrible person. What do I do then when I realize I have a massive rewrite ahead of me?
Well, first I get depressed at the thought. Then I realize that I need to finish the first draft as I had planned it as best as I can. It would make no sense to suddenly start writing from page 200 like the first 200 pages were different from what they were. I also didn’t want to scrap what I already had since I don’t know how many individual moments that, while they might be part of a story that needs massive rewrites, could be worthwhile on their own. No, I needed to finish the first draft as it was. That made me even more depressed.
Still, I persevered, never working quite as hard as I wanted but with steady progress starting sometime in November. And now I’m done, about 14 months after I started.
At least I don’t have an unfinished draft over my head.
Now I get to think about my George Washington book again for another rewrite.
But first, a little break.