Readers, friends, compatriots, and comrades. The novella is finished.
Is it good?
I have no idea.
But it’s done and that is enough.
Writing this thing has been a transformative experience for me in a number of ways and I want to talk about a few of them in this post. So, let’s get into it.
Persistence is key. I started this novella five times. I had four false starts before we stumbled on something that might be good. Those stumbles were an important point in the process. For the first four drafts, I kept trying to push a narrative that I didn’t feel comfortable writing. I couldn’t make it sound correct. There was no flow to the piece and I could feel that in my fingers. It made it impossible to continue running through the work.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t write outside of our comfort zone. This whole project is outside of my happy place. But we do need to be aware when something isn’t working.
The true narrative that I was trying to write is something that I’m not yet prepared to tackle. It’s too personal and it might take years before I’m ready to fully dive into something like that. And it’s okay for it to take that time. Writing is a process. It’s muscle that grows and gets stronger. I’m not ready to lift that weight yet.
That said, the actual narrative is still a reach for me. I’ve written two crime stories in my time and I’ve actually been lucky enough to have them both published. One is more horror/crime but that’s beside the point.
With this novella, I took my interest in detective fiction and weird fiction to a new level. I tried to push these two together and I’m hoping the product is chocolate and peanut butter. But I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I felt myself pulling from other authors and trying techniques that I’ve seen done before and had not yet tried.
For instance, there’s an entire sequence that I basically stole from an author I recently read. It was a new take on providing flashback storytelling. I tried it and I don’t know how it worked. It might stay or go. Who knows.
That brings me to a really big point. I learned that reading is so important.
I know that sounds like a cliche. You can all stand on your chairs and yell, “no shit” to the world. I get it.
But it’s true. I found myself in corners, stuck, and trying to claw my way out. Every single time, I was saved by thinking about the books that I’ve read and how other authors managed to pull their heroes out of sticky situations. I went back to a couple of books and found scenes to help me deal with the current predicatment in the novella.
When I made a commitment to writing, I also made a commitment to reading. I’ve tried hard to consume a lot of fiction from a diverse pool of authors. I have room for improvement, but before the past few years I lived in a Stephen King bubble. Stephen King is amazing and I worship the man. But he’s not a good example for new writers. New writers need to see people that are just like them, so they can realize that writing 250 words a day is enough to be a writer.
And here’s the last point. Persistence and daily goals.
I was lucky and there were many days where I could pump out about 1,000 words in a single writing session. That’s not normal and I had a ton of days where I could only get about 250 words done. In those days where I was neither hot or cold, I got an average of 500 words on the page.
That work adds up. I pumped out 116 pages in two months and 11 days. I’m not kidding. That is the count. I double checked.
I don’t know if that is average for a more experienced writer, but it’s a little above average for me. This novella came out nicely (all things considered) and I’m grateful for that. And by it came out nicely, I mean I was able to write it with few hiccups professionally, personally, etc. I’m not making any guarantees on the quality of the piece.
What does all this add up to? I’ll tell you.
I’ve proven to myself that I can write in long form. I’ve never done anything this long in my entire writing life. I’m proud to have done it. It felt good to see the last line come across the page. It felt amazing to hit save, stand up from the keyboard, and look down at the thing that I produced out of my own imagination.
I’ll be honest. I’m not anxious. In the back of my head, I’m wondering if I spent more than two months writing something that wasn’t very good. But first drafts are always bad. So, who knows.
That’s the story, friends. I’m tired and I need to get back to work. I think we’re going to head on back to some short stories now.