November 3rd, 2009

Macbeth the Usurper

My First Bad Novel

This is not the first novel that I am writing. My first was code named "My First Bad Novel." I eventually gave it the title of "Silence and Rain." The original idea was to place it in the D&D world of Greyhawk. As I wrote it, I eventually decided that I liked something about the whole work, and I shifted it to an "original setting." OK. I changed the names of places, and used the new liberties to make up all kinds of new stuff.

Sadly, some folks referred to this as fanfic. No, it was not. I won't get into the details of what makes/does not make fanfic. That lies beyond this little post and dwells in the land of endless flamewars. It is not fanfic because I assert that it is not fanfic, and we must leave it at that.

I did the primary draft of this piece longhand, from 10pm until I got sleepy. I don't remember how long the draft took. That wasn't important. My primary goal was writing something of novel length, but not being TOO serious about it. Thus, I named it "My First Bad Novel" to keep me focused on accomplishment rather than excellence.

Somewhere along the line, during my first revision, I left off revising and never returned to it.

The work had serious issues. These days, I refer to this book as "Three Characters In Search of a Plot." The work never really gelled. My cool idea was in exploriing cyclical time, and events that recurred over and over. Unfortunately, Battlestar Galactica used the same theme, independently, so I gave up on the work. At best, others would see the theme as derivative of BSG, then conclude that other bits were derivative, and that the work was just a fantasiation of the BSG series. No, it was just unfortunate timing.

My First Bad Novel taught me many things. Most importantly, I can't write something once. I must revise and revise considerably. First revisions are for getting the basic idea out. Second revisions are where I take the raw ideas and actually have them make sense.

Some things I do well, no matter what the draft. If you need a character sketched out and realized, I'm your man. Character is my strongest suit. I'm also excellent at making shit up. Cool shit, at that. Plot and story, on the other hand, there's a problem. It was the primary problem with my first book, and it has been the most brutal part of the current book.

My first book also taught me that I can't run at a book. Generating a work takes time for me. I can't just slam through writing unless I'm using a particularly verbose style. That greatly helped my approach to my current work, where I knew from going in that story would be an issue, that I would need to revise, and most importantly, I would need development time.

Having written a book-length manuscript already, it gave me the freedom to really think about and decide how I wanted to write my current book. I found that good. Most importantly, I am writing this work for ME, because this is something that I like to do. I will write books whether I have a publisher or not, contract or not, income or not. This is what I do. This is my pleasure. In the end, I keep up my discipline because I like to write and it pleases me.

So while you are busy in your NaNoWrite month, think about your pleasure. If writing is your pleasure, then make it part of your life, not just this month, but for all months to come. Make writing a part of your life, not apart from your life.