Wednesday November 25th – Day 21
Peace, bells and whistles; the first draft is in the bag!
43,500 words in 21 days. And, I’d be lying if I denied there were times when I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew. There were many and I’m given to think most authors encounter and triumph over the same doubts. It’s a strange moment, the completion of a first draft. One senses a form of tempered euphoria; euphoria for having assembled such a volume of material and yet tempered because I am aware that a second shift of work is about to begin. The task now is to turn the body of work into a novella that is pleasingly legible and which maintains a consistent rhythm. For the moment, though, it is important to step back and enjoy the reward of having achieved base camp.
I was up in the early hours, it wasn’t a hardship, and savoured the anticipation of reaching base camp. I didn’t walk, preferring to get a few words on the page so that after breakfast I could sit down at the keyboard and know precisely where I was going and what I had to do. I’ve kept sight of the far-off summit, in terms of which tools and mechanisms I’ve needed to nourish me through this rapid journey. Normally, you plan the hike, and in the days leading up to the start you visit various sites along the route to drop off supplies. The point of this is that when you get to the end of each day’s march, you have at your disposal sufficient provisions with which to recharge your mind. It is not possible to carry on your back all you require to get you through each and every day’s exertions; that load would not only exhaust you; it would also slow and truncate your progress. However, writing a novella in such a short time frame, I haven’t had the luxury of planting those provisions; I’ve had to carry them with me on my back. Practice, as with any other form of exercise, whether physical or mental, is key and knowing when to push on and when to rest is also vital. Novel writing, as I have said, is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. This challenge has been more like a three-week sprint. Make no mistake, I’ve enjoyed the experience; it’s been a pleasure, particularly when compared to the trials and tribulations some folk are enduring right now. Would I willingly challenge myself to run this gauntlet again? Probably, or there again probably not. I am reminded of my father’s gently amusing response to people who asked him what he did when he felt like exercise. “Why,” he would say, the light of mischief twinkling in his eyes, “I lie down and wait for the feeling to go away.”
Ciao. Until tomorrow.