Saturday, April 18, 2009

Starting Work on a Novel ...

This week I've started work on a novel. Well, when I say started, what I mean to say is that I have committed myself to doing it. The idea is in place, and I know the story that I want to tell, so the rest should be easy, right? Right?
The problem is that I have been down this road before. And I know that the idea is the least of it. I already have a 90,000 word novel wallowing in rejection in a box under the bed, a novel that I was certain the world was going to love. Unfortunately, the publishers didn't. At least, not enough to publish it. They say you learn something from everything you write but 90,000 words worth of learning makes for an awfully long and harsh lesson. Now, if it was just the one book tucked away with the dust bunnies then I suppose that wouldn't be so bad. Call it an apprenticeship, and move on, right? Except, also hidden away are a couple of aborted 100-plus page manuscripts and a short (60,000 word) Western novel of the almost-but-not-quite-pulp variety that I have since discovered doesn't really interest too many people in the publishing game anymore.
What I take from such previous efforts (doing my best Eric Idle and looking on the bright side ...) is the knowledge that I can actually complete a full-length work. A full-length publishable work might be another matter, though.
So, I am in the research stage. Set a millennia in the past, I am hoping to tell the story of a semi-historical (or should that be pseudo-historical) but much overlooked Irish figure. In my dreams, I see the book as a James Michener crossed with Morgan Llywelyn. The bones of a story are in place, typically full of contradictions, which I hope will allow me the freedom to embellish to beat the band. I'm equal parts nervous and excited to be starting on such a venture but I feel that with the publication, this coming June, of my short story collection, 'In Too Deep', I have bought myself a few months or so to at least give it a try.
Discipline will be the key to getting finished. Daily word count targets are my way of getting a workable first draft, 1000 words, limited tea breaks, no excuses. The difficult part is actually getting started. For now, the research part of this game is enjoyable, and necessary, but I know that after a while I'll probably start using it as an excuse. The sooner I can actually start writing, the better ...

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