So, I’ve been dedicating a lot of processor cycles to the process of writing the next book in the Children of the Old War series, “Sect of the Rounded Stone”. Mostly, I’ve been pondering the feasibility of getting it published within a year of book one. Maybe “pondering” isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s “fretting”. While the first chapters about Caymus and the Conflagration came into being almost twenty years ago, the majority of the work of getting the book written and put into circulation happened in a period of about four years of on-again-off-again work. It took four years to write the first book. This means committing to having a similarly-written book in the hands of the public within a single year would be committing myself to quite a challenge.
But I suppose a bit of context is needed here, right? A goal expressed in words-per-day is much easier to reach for, say, the unemployed than for the president of the Neighborhood Watch. Mine’s a generally straightforward and simple kind of life. I live just outside Maidenhead, a medium-ish drive from London. I get up at 5 in the morning, put on the least offensive clothes I can locate, spend about 15-20 minutes watching BBC news, then head off to catch a train into the greater London area. Then comes the point where I jump on the Underground to get into the City itself for a solid day’s work. After spending a fair amount of time arguing with a handful of computers about whether or not various elements of various web-pages are working, or even there at all (“just click on the sign-in icon. I can see the icon right there! Just click it, already!”), I repeat the process in reverse, reaching home by about 6, then spending time either unwinding in front of crime dramas or working on various little projects, which I won’t go into, until bed-time at 9.
It takes me roughly an hour-and-a-half to get into work in the morning, and about 2 hours to get home. Most of the writing I do is done on the train (hence the title of the site…clever, right?). I actually find it very difficult to write at home. I can organize my thoughts on a plot point, I can ponder the motivations of a character, and I can even jot down some bullet points regarding a story’s basic outline, but actually crafting the prose…when there’s a new episode of “Sherlock” on BBC1?…one can generally assume that’s not going to happen.
Still, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that, knowing what I now know about getting a book made and sold, H John Spriggs should be possible to produce a ~220K word novel in a little less than a year.
There’s also the fact that I’ve already put in a lot of the pre-writing effort involved in a book like this. Plus, I already know a lot of the characters…you know…pretty well. It all lowers the overall time estimate.
I had a bit of help with the KotF, in the form of a book called “First Draft in 30 Days” by Karen S Wiesner. It’s a great bit of writer’s utility, providing a nice, organized way to turn creative writing into a process, and turning the process into a finished work. I didn’t, in fact, get a first draft written in 30 days—in fact, I doubt I got more than a few character sketches done in 30 days—but the principles it lays out, of getting the details straight, of getting the details organized into a cohesive story, and then fleshing out said story, still apply, even if the whole process takes quite a bit longer than what’s advertised on the cover. If you’re a writer, and you ever feel yourself running a bit off-course in your project, I highly recommend that book. Highly. I’ll be using it again for book 2.
So where does that leave me? I know I can’t actually write over two hundred thousand words in 30 days. Okay, fine, so how fast can I write them? You know…while keeping both my sanity and a modicum of a social life. 60 days? 120 days? It’s kind of an exciting question, and unfortunately, it bears more thought than a single blog post can really allow, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to get back to you with my final answer.
The bottom line? If it turns that you, like a handful of people I’ve met, end up really enjoying “Knight of the Flame”, then you’ll be glad to know that it’s looking more and more likely that you’ll not have to wait a disgustingly long time to get your hands on the next steps of our characters’ journeys.
Now, where did I put my copy of “First Draft in 30 Days”?