The other night I passed another milestone of my young writing career. I finished the preliminary edit pass on my first novel! I am very excited about this occasion, as it has been a very long time in the making.
I started writing this story back in March of 2014. It was an idea I had kicking around my head for a little while — a situation the protagonist found himself in rather than a plot. So after a few weeks of pondering it I wrote a couple of chapters before I decided it just wasn’t going to be what I wanted to write. My wife asked if she could take a look at what I had, so I printed it out and she read it that night. She said something along the lines of “you’re not finishing this?” I responded “probably not,” to which she replied “yes you are, because I want to read the rest.”
You might think “Oh she’s just saying that,” and normally I would agree, but that’s a commonality I think I can say Stephen King and I have — our wives are our harshest critics. She wouldn’t have said that if she didn’t mean it. That’s certainly not a bad thing; she knows that sugar coating things just to make me happy will not do me any good in the long term. She has been blunt with me in the past on any of my artistic endeavors (whether art or writing), and the end result always benefits from it. Having said that, when she told me she wanted to read more, I thought it wise to continue building on the story I had.
So, 10 months, 2 shipped games, and (most importantly) a newborn son later, that same story is now a 125k word novel. I am so thrilled to have completed it, especially after some lengthy gaps in writing due to the day job, freelance, an infant, and various house guests. It was the kind of situation where I was ready to throw in the towel more than once, but my wife pushed me to keep going, and I am glad she did.
As I did the initial edit pass I was able to read the whole thing (for the first time) in a relatively short time frame. Much to my surprise, I didn’t hate it. In fact, I kind of liked it.
This is not to be taken as an arrogant or prideful comment, it’s not going to be up to me whether other readers enjoy it — well, I guess in a sense it is, but you know what I mean. By that I mean I actually had fun reading it as a story, which is something I was worried about after just the first ten chapters of writing it. I started second guessing every decision I made, started critiquing chapters I had not written (or read) in months. I thought the whole thing was going to be a befuddled disaster that even I, the author, wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of (sorry, hun, I know you hate when I end sentences on prepositions). So when I read it for the first time (I don’t read my manuscript while I am writing it, a suggestion I took from Stephen King’s On Writing), I was pleased with how much more smoothly the story flowed than what I had anticipated.
Of course, my opinion is just that, an opinion. Now that the draft is in the hands of two very capable critics (and more to come), I may end up being the only one feeling that way; time will tell. One thing is for sure, though. I have my first full length novel under my belt, and success or fail, that is huge.
At this point I am hoping to have the story sent out to my beta readers in about a month or so, and then the final release sometime in late March to early April. I would love to just get the book out in the next couple of weeks, but I’m forcing myself to take a slow and careful approach. I am already receiving great feedback and planning for some changes, and I know I’ll only receive more constructive criticism as more people get their hands on it. This will allow me to (hopefully) release a very smooth and polished novel. You really only get one shot at a debut novel as an author, and I want to make sure it counts.
Thank you to all the folks out there that have been encouraging me as I finished this project up. I am excited to share with the world the labor of my love over the past year, and hope that it is an enjoyable experience for you when it launches here shortly.
Stay tuned for upcoming news on the title, cover art, and other projects in the near future. For now, I will focus on cover art for J.T. O’Connell’s upcoming release The Remaking (it’s a good one, I’ve already had the pleasure of reading it) as well as the cover for my own book. And then, most importantly, taking it easy in the evenings again — at least until I start the next idea I have in my head. 🙂
Until next time,