Wheels within Wheels, Novels within Novels…
How long is a novel? Somewhere from 80 000 words upwards. How long does that take? Depends how hard you work. Me, I work on the model of about 1 500 words per morning, five days a week. That’s about 30 000 words a month, so in theory, it can take 3 months to write a novel.
But then all you have is a first draft. I work from a rough plan, so I charge along that plan line from start to finish working through each section as I go. Some of these change and mutate, some don’t. Sometimes I not sure how they fit together. That’s the first draft. In the case of the book I am writing, I might be looking at more words, maybe 4 or 5 months of first draft writing. Then the jigsaw work begins. Looking for flaws, breaks in the chain, going back and embellishing, removing, adding, changing, reworking. That can take a while. Probably twice as long as the writing. I guess that depends on what your structure and your plots and themes are like. If you’re running a single person narrative with a plot and a twist with a sub plot, maybe not so long. I am running two narratives, one multi person, one first person and I have several themes, a plot and almost as many sub plots as characters. This is why I have spent nearly 3 years wrestling the pre-writing stuff. I have NO experience with this kind of scale!
I love the fact that I am shitting myself though. This is very definitely work. That kinda wordage, that kinda mental construct. You don’t just DO that. OK, well maybe genii do, but I don’t. But I also think that many people who want to write a book underestimate how much work it is, and that it is work. It’s not like one day the light bulb goes on and you write a novel or a book. You work at it, piecing it together, thinking about it. And then you write and write and write. And then you re-write and re-write. It takes time and commitment. But this work, is work in the sort of eastern philosophy, Zen sense… it is a practice, a meditation, a purpose, which lifts it from mere sweaty drudgery.
So when I say that the novel is taking some work at the moment to gain momentum. Do not misunderstand me. I am happy for that. But to step sideways from my day to day life effectively into the alternative space is a process that takes time and work. I have been dreaming a lot lately. Or at least, remembering my dreams. They have been of life during wartime, travel, of messiahs. I am curious if they have something to do with my book or some other activity out there in my life. I am writing them down as I go along as well.
Structure or no structure there is always the ad hoc, the momentary flash, the inspired moment. But if you are not in process, not practiced, you may lose those as well. So the morning words are ticking along, not as fast as I’d like, but building momentum.
And remember one last thing… no piece of writing is ever wasted. It might not fit the current puzzle, but its good practice!