Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Just Completed the Draft of Book III, The River of Shadows
OK, it's still way too cold to do this in Massachusetts, and I'm about 100 miles from the nearest beach, and that's not me. Or my dog. But the feeling's spot on. Sunday night at midnight I finished the first full draft of Book III of The Chathrand Voyage series, THE RIVER OF SHADOWS. The novel weighs in at 185,000 words--halfway between the first and second volumes in length. More importantly, I'm happy with it. I stayed true to the characters, the language, the story, the world. And yet the book whacked me silly with surprise after surprise. That's the greatest joy of the first-draft process for me, though sometimes it's hard to slow down and feel it.
Oh, I'm happy. I wrote 82,000 words in 57 days, through the last two-thirds of a cold New England January and February, and now the sun is out, and I'm permitting myself a morning in a coffee shop before the revisions begin. It feels like being reborn.
A brief digression, now (regular readers will expect no less). Writers, you may have heard, are supposed to be cool. That's horse hockey. Stand-up comics are cool. That's their job. It is not a writer's job. But there's a growing consensus in THE INDUSTRY that a cool persona is the best marketing tool a writer can hone. Without anyone requiring it of us, we writers dance the dance, perform the self, suggest to the world that it find us fascinating. The internet didn't start us playing this game, but it has made it feel almost compulsory.
The trouble with the game is simply stated: it's dishonest. Subtle, stylish dishonesty is still dishonesty. We're supposed to look for emotional truth; we can't do that if we forget how to recognize it in ourselves. My point here is not to condemn the game altogether (entertainment is entertainment, after all) but to note that it has nothing to do with good writing, or goodness at all. Be as cool as you want; to have a hope of mattering, however, you'll have to do more. This is a warning to myself first and foremost. I finished a draft; so what? I'm sculpting a story in a little world called Alifros; so what? Carl Sagan, that prince of squares, may have put it best: "We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers."
And you thought you'd get through this post without a rant.