Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Story About Stories (Part 2)

So when last we left off, I had decided to table a book I'd spent seven years of my life working on.

Though artistically, I made the right decision, at the time I couldn't help but feeling a bit of despair as well. See, a few years earlier, I promised myself that by the time I was 33, (the infamous Jesus/apotheosis year) I would have a working draft of at least one book written. I had planned on that book being The Constable of Bridge. 

Now, I'm 33, soon to turn 34 in June, and I effectively hit reset on this goal.

Only, there was this other story I'd started working on right after I'd moved to Seattle...

It was a story about the danger of wishes and the difference between getting what you want and what you need. It also was about work, heists, and, of course, magic. (I don't want to give to much of the premise away, because hey! I may get this thing published.)

When I'd ride the bus in to work every morning, I found myself writing the story by hand in the leather journal I take everywhere. It was great fun; it helped me get through some rough days. Most importantly, it made me remember why I loved telling stories.

Right now, I'm calling it Granters.

Every morning, I wrote in that leather journal, packed in with people on either side of me on the bus, until one day I actually finished. Then I typed it up on my computer, and it clocked in at around 17,000 words. Too long for a short story, and not long enough for a book. And there were precious few places that bought 17K novellas.

Yet the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if I could turn it into book. I knew there were other parts of the story, bits I'd cut or ignored, waiting in my subconscious, ready to be uncovered and typed out on to the screen.

But before I could commit, I submitted the first 5,000 words of Granters to my critique group, and for the first time ever, got near-unanimous praise. Thus encouraged, I began to try and turn Granters into a book.

This was back in January. I made the effort to get up early in the morning and write at least 500 words, if not 1,000, or write the equivalent amount in the evening before bed. If I got stuck, I would brainstorm and outline ideas. If I started to procrastinate, I would throw out whatever was distracting me. Miraculously, or maybe it's because I don't have as many friends out here in Seattle, I stuck with my writing schedule. For me, the results were dramatic.  New ideas and character developments came to me all the time. The story, already fun, began to crackle with life. The words flowed, and for the first time in years, I felt content.

Now, in the middle of May, I'm happy to say that I've finished the first draft of an 85K book that I think has some real potential. And though I've run several marathons, I've never been so happy in my life to have a finished a race. It's honestly been one of the most rewarding ones of my life.

Right now, I've been starting my first read-thru and beginning some continuity edit, and after that I'm sending it to a few first readers, but once that's done, I'm going to submit it to a few agents.

More than ever, I really do believe creating art--whether it be telling stories, painting pictures, or playing music, has much more in common with sports than we think. Practice is of the utmost importance. Only when you're regularly making time to flex those muscles (literal or figurative), do you see improvement.

So take that, apotheosis year. I finished. And I can't wait to start on the next one. I already have a few ideas about that, in fact...

No comments: