Monday, July 29, 2013

NaNoWriSpr & NaNoWriSum Remembered: The Composition Process

I loved working on the whole process of writing this novel manuscript that I'm about ready to shop out, even though it felt at times like I was never going to get there. I'm so glad, in retrospect, of everything that happened with the composition process.

A few examples:
  • I'm glad I was teaching while I drafted the first third of the manuscript and did the bulk of my research. The first part is always the hardest, and the hardest to do without other things to balance it out, so teaching 2 classes was just about right during this time.
  • I'm glad I took my creative writing class during this same period. Since I'd done so much academic writing for so long before this project, the class helped me transition and gave me vital instruction and feedback as to how to provide the right amount of tension and information in those vital early chapters that help to sell books and hook readers. And most importantly, they helped encourage me that I was on the right track when my confidence was lowest.
  • I'm glad to have so many delightful volunteer readers and others to encourage me and listen to my crazed ramblings about the research and characters of my novel. Having patient sounding boards helped me during my deepest immersions in the novel, and having readers who needed to read the novel by specific times gave me much-needed deadlines in addition to crucial feedback to help me revise.
  • I'm glad I was able to immerse myself in writing the last two-thirds of the novel this summer with few distractions. Yes, I know, I know--as late as May I was warning people that I might become completely incapable of socialization during this period, and was scared of it. But the truth is that as the book grew longer, frequent complete re-reads and revision sessions became necessary, requiring long chunks of time. In fact, in the last two weeks before the full draft was finished, every time I sat down to write I re-read almost the whole thing first every single time (this was why I was up till 5 a.m. every other night during that time). I'm convinced that without this immersive experience of writing a lot of story in a short (but not too short) period of time, the end of the story wouldn't read nearly as fluidly.
  • I'm glad I did all that obsessive re-reading and re-drafting of the whole story toward the end of the first draft. Because without my obsessive re-reading, on the last day of initial drafting I would never have been able to make that gigantic push (35 pages in less than 24 hours! by far a personal best!). Certainly not without feeling confident that my big climax and resolution scenes actually wrapped up most of the story threads. Sure, I had to go back and revise some of the early parts to foreshadow the exact details a bit after the fact, but that's been a joy and delight as well.
All in all, I'm pleased and grateful that the process has come out as it has. It's been a bit painful at times, sure. But really, in retrospect, has gone pretty quickly overall. Especially considering how happy I am with the results. And here I am toward the end of the process--transitioning into the seeking publication part of things. And it feels good to be here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Done! (or, the Novel Is in Others' Hands)

I just looked back at this blog and was a little appalled my last entry was on May 20. At the same time, I have an incredibly good "excuse," in that my absence here has translated into excellent progress on the novel project.

Back then, if you'll remember, I had 130 pages, or almost 31,000 words, of my first-ish draft.

Now I have (and this deserves some bolding) nearly 95,000 words, or around 350 manuscript pages, in a third draft that's out to readers for further feedback. This is a beautiful thing. I've already gotten (largely highly encouraging) feedback from half a dozen readers, and I'm waiting to hear back from more while I'm preparing all the appropriate materials and feeling my way into the path toward seeking publication.

This deserves a huge huzzah. So huzzah huzzah huzzah! Thanks to all those who have provided me support and feedback already on this project that's felt incredibly quixotic at times. One thing is sure: it's been a lot of work, but also a ton of fun. I'm profoundly thankful to have had an opportunity to undertake it!

Until later, Cheers!