Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Ten Weeks & the Best of Intentions

Confessions of a Writer:

It's been a fine (mostly) ten weeks of speculative sailing since I began this blind voyage into my first concerted effort at fiction writing. Having set out on a day dedicated to fools, have I completed my efforts any the wiser? I suppose I have. Certainly I have learned a great deal and my confidence in my writing has grown, though completion of the task at hand is another matter.

Ten weeks ago I set myself the challenge of conceptualizing, plotting, and writing an entire full length fantasy novel in a fit of madness rarely seen in our modern age - or at least the first draft thereof, in said period of time.  Afterwards, it was to be given a final week's polish - cue laughter, and tied up with virtual string. I had other works I'd been tinkering with for longer, but I needed something that would represent a fresh start, I felt. Did I do it? Do I have an entire, ground-breaking work of speculative fiction in my pocket to present to you? Were my mad plans brought to fruition?

No. Of course not. Not entirely, that is. Even the best built plans and ships often go astray, only needing some fool to open a faulty bag of wind and blow you off course, grounding your efforts on some alien shore where the ill-tempered monocular locals eat your crew for breakfast. We're not home yet, but what a trip it's been!

I had hoped to produce forty-nine chapters plus a prologue - having arrived at that figure no more scientifically than an answer received from an oracle or one of these. I have written the fifty odd chapters undertaken, and more, so in that sense the experiment has been a success.  I have also come up with a really good story.

If that was the end of our tale, then the chapters would be on their way right now to your nearest literary agent - but somewhere along the ten weeks something happened: the book got longer, stranger, and I'd like to think, considerably better for it.

New and supporting characters crawled in from the margins, demanding more time on the center stage and their share of the text - and then some, be added to the already complex plot. The districts of the Invisible City grew wider and wilder, no mean feat in a place that defies maps and puts the blade in the concept of traditional boundaries. The dangers and difficulties which the protagonists need face, rose up like a wall of water, towering above them and in whose currents deadly indistinct shapes circled.

In short, the book isn't done. I haven't arrived yet at the fabled shore, but I can see it now and am closing in, passing through the shallows. Another month, perhaps two, and all should be well and the first draft lie sparkling in the sun, rich and strange, just beneath the receding waters. It's hard work steering a course between Scylla and Charybdis, and no doubt some of the book will be duly sacrificed to lighten the load.

Nothing for the agent though, not today. Not tomorrow, but soon. The Clos des Goisses '96 will go back under the bed and I'll be continuing to turn all my efforts to this increasingly epic work in progress. Between now and then, when that glad day should fall in the waning weeks of summer, I doubt very much that I'll be posting anything noteworthy in the way of updates to this page. I need all my concentration and both eyes, firmly fixed on that ghost-haunted horizon.