Monday, April 16, 2012

Be brave enough to make your own monsters

"Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and sieze whatever prey the heart longs for, and have no fear." - W. B. Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

Today, I wrote ENDS on my Very Bad Draft of the current book in progress. Let me assure you it is a very bad draft - it is going immediately (well, immediately post-typing) into revisions, and not to my agent, or to my beta readers, or to anyone. It needs a lot of work.

But there is actually a beginning, a middle, and and end, and they are all in approximately the right places. I don't know how many words there are (see above, re: typing, and how it hasn't happened yet), but my guess is there will be about twice as many when it is done done. I underwrite on my zero drafts.

It was a weird writing experience for me. It's loosely set in a time and place I'm relatively familiar with (England, the late 16th century, which I know some things about due to having specialized in English literature from 1350-1650 for my doctorate), but still required an awful lot of research. And the research was varied - the random grab from the pile of books closest to the desk brought up Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies, and From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll. And oddly, most of the research won't go in until the revision - I just needed to have the thoughts there, in the back of my brain, as I wrote.

It's an alt-history, which means actual people show up. Sometimes, they even behave like their counterparts in our history. But sometimes events - and people - got broken apart and put back together for the sake of story. 

Story got broken apart and put back together - or at least bandaged over - for the sake of story a great deal, too. Whenever I didn't know what happened next, I wrote the worst possible set of circumstances. No one gets out unscathed. Not even the person writing it.

I decided to write this book for a lot of reasons, many of which I'm not quite ready to talk about yet, but one of which was that I didn't think I could do it. But I wanted to try something big and unwieldy, something that would push me out of my comfort zone, and keep me there the entire time I was writing it. Some days, writing like that sucked - I could hear the wind whistling past my ears as I plummeted. But I am proud of this draft, as monstrous and as ugly as it is. And I'm proud of myself for writing it.


  1. And I can't wait to read it. :D

    Congratulations! Finishing a Zero Draft is a seriously BFD. ::confetti!:: ::champagne!::


  2. One of the things some (usually new-to-the-game) authors have an absolute freak-out about is the knowledge that they will inevitably write at least one Really Bad Draft.

    And once they've written it, their story will be the better for it.


    1. Yeah, I've actually gotten a lot more relaxed about drafting (more willing to trust myself to fix it on revision) as I've written more. When I first started, I kind of had this idea that if I didn't get it right the first time, then obviously I wasn't any good. I'm glad I don't think that anymore.