This weekend, I aim to finish the rewrites of the final chapters of Scribbling The Eternal. This means that I have responded to the feedback from my beta readers as well as my own notes after reading the first completed draft.
After I finish these rewrites, I am considering taking one more pass through the manuscript to address and strengthen the theme of love and how it relates to Orly Bialek. That undertaking might end up spiraling into something huge, but I’m hoping it won’t take months to get through. Secretly, I’m hoping it will only take a couple of weeks more as the foundation is already well laid.
Regardless, it feels good to be this close to finishing my final draft and passing it forward for editing.
I should have posted this back on September 22, but it has not yet become a habit of mine to post to this blog. Anyhow, after 22 months of writing, I finally finished the full draft of Scribbling The Eternal. I was in shock when I finished. I don’t think it really hit me until the next day, which is when I sent out the final eight chapters to my beta readers.
Since that time, I’ve received their feedback, via the surveys I write for them to fill out. The surveys ask some general questions and some very pointed questions about things I am struggling with in particular. The responses have been mostly positive. All said it was a strong sequel, which was a big relief to me because I think sequels are difficult to write, especially when you know people enjoyed the first book. One beta reader even preferred Scribbling The Eternal to The Scribbled Victims, which made me feel especially accomplished.
All that being said, the amount of notes I took from their feedback is making me realize the rewriting phase is going to take a lot longer than I expected. Since I do a lot of my rewriting as I write my books, the earlier the chapter, the cleaner it generally is (which can work against me if I have to make early changes because that means deconstructing a lot of revised and reworked text). Since I considered the majority of my book to already be clean, I expected about a six week rewrite period, but with all the notes I received and the introspection I’ve done on my own, I’m now thinking it could take between four and six months.
I’m not discouraged by that though. I know it’s in the interest of producing the best book I can, so it’s all worth it, even though it means the gratification of releasing a new book will have to wait a little longer. Anyhow, I hope people are really happy with the final version of the sequel.
Many writers give the advice that you should write every day. I’ve even given that advice to other writers, and with all my heart I believe it to be the best advice for any writer. However, as I still have not fulfilled my dream of writing for a living, I still have a day job that often leaves me mentally drained at the end of the day, and so writing every single day is not something I have been able to master myself.
The main reason I think it is important to write every day isn’t because you’ll finish faster, rather it’s that doing so keeps you engaged with your story so that it is always fresh in your mind.
Though I don’t write every day, I do keep track of my word count on an Excel spreadsheet and set a minimum quota of new words that I must write for the month. I say new words, because I only count the words that add to the total word count. Many times when I’m editing, I throw away more words than I have written, so I actually end up with a negative word count for the day.
Constantly opening my word count spreadsheet inspires me to write frequently and ensures that I am always on track to finishing my next book. It’s also a nice way for me to see the progress I’ve made and it gives me a rough idea as to when I will finish my first full draft.
My original quota was 10,000 new words per month, but as my doctor, psychiatrist, and psychologist all believe I have too much stress in my life, I lowered it to only 5,000 new words per month. It wasn’t easy for me to cut my quota in half as I knew it would only slow the progress of my book. I already consider myself to be a slow writer, and am jealous of writers who are able to put out multiple books per year. But the flip side is that 5,000 new words per month is such an easy goal to achieve, that it never feels overwhelming to sit down and write.
I may write slowly, but I do finish, and that’s what’s most important. The Scribbled Victims, which was 82,000 words took me two years to write and rewrite, and its sequel, Scribbling The Eternal looks like it will take just as long, if not longer. Below is a screenshot of my word count spreadsheet for this month. You’ll see that today I wrote 581 new words and that I’m well over my 5,000 words for the month. You’ll also see Scribbling The Eternal has surpassed 100,000 words. If you saw how far the monthly tabs go back you’d see I started writing the sequel in December 2016. I highlight the weekends so that I focus on them as they are my most productive days since I spend them at Starbucks instead of my office staring at the financial spreadsheets I’m paid to work with.
I’m so close to finishing Scribbling The Eternal, the sequel to The Scribbled Victims, but I’ve hit a wall and her name is Mirela Cobalcescu. She’s begun behaving in ways I didn’t see coming.
Let me explain. When I write, I don’t write completely alone. My characters do a lot of the writing for me. They do the things they want to do and say the things they want to say. Sure I created them but from there my job is mostly to place them in situations and then allow them to be true to themselves. This is especially the case for the character of Orly Bialek–I just let her go and she does her own thing. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about how unpredictable and irrational Orly is, and that makes me happy because it tells me that, on the page, she is just being herself.
But in this new book, I feel Mirela’s behavior is making me lose the directional control of the story and I’ve been struggling to find a way back to the situations I planned to have her and the other characters face. It’s been very difficult for me mentally because I thought I was so close to finishing the full draft, but now I think it could take weeks if not months more to complete, which will mean a later release date than I planned.
Maybe it will sound strange to you, but I need to talk to Mirela alone and find out what she really wants so I can figure out a way to steer this story back on course.
If you write fiction, stage plays, or screenplays, do you approach writing in a similar way? Do you interact with your characters and give them the freedom to be who they want to be rather than who you want them to be?