First Drafting

As I wait for the final beta-readers to get back to me before I send the manuscript off to Bothersome Words, I have begun work on book two.

Image by qian

And wow, am I rusty!

I completed the first draft of The Blood of the Spear back in 2010.

If you are wondering what in the world have I been doing between then and now, well, you aren’t the only one.

A standard piece of advice that new writers receive, is to put their finished work away for a length of time (that length varies depending on who is offering the advice). Well, I did this. I did this a number of times.

Of course, not having done any writing courses, or even read any ‘how to’ books, I only had a vague idea of what happens next. I knew that some writers had a number of drafts, so I embarked on ‘rewriting’ – this ended up just being a number of re-reads and pushing words around.

I did send it out to beta-readers, and I received feedback – luckily none of it was horrible, although it would have been justified back then I am sure. Still, I didn’t really know what I needed to do next, so the manuscript was put away again as I continued to think and reading and day dream about being an author.

Gah!

Then, approximately fifteen months ago, I had an idea that changed a quite a bit of the back story, and required a significant amount of re-writing so I set to it. As it turns out I had learnt something over the years of rewriting because I changed a great many things in the manuscript as I went.

You see, over this period of time I had become friends with a number of other writers and editors, and through conversations with them and the reviewing of other writers works, I have now developed a better understanding of the steps I need to go through with a manuscript once I type ‘the end’.

But while I have been writing over the last five-odd years (years that I was actually working on the manuscript) it has mostly been about ‘editing’ and tweaking, not first draft writing. When I was doing the first draft, I was writing approximately two thousand words a day, seven days a week. I had managed to turn off the inner critic – who wanted every word to be perfect – and just got the words onto the page. It’s been eight years since I wrote like that, and now heading back into a first draft I am finding it a struggle.

I understand the work I have been doing is, in fact, writing, and it has been beneficial. I have learnt a lot and – in my humble opinion – my writing has improved. It’s just been a different type of writing, and first draft writing – at least for me – uses a different part of the brain.

But I’ll get there!

P.S. Of course there is that other piece of advice that first time writers are given also, and that is to trunk (put away and don’t take back out) their first novel. The idea being that this is the novel you are learning on and the things you will need to fix are just too numerous. Yeah, while I ma not actually get this book published first in the gran scheme of things, it will see the light of day.

Eventually.

WIP Origin

In 1985 I discovered Dragons of Autumn Twilight in the school library, I didn’t know anything about Dragonlance or D&D at the time, I had never heard of Tolkien or Feist or Eddings or Brooks. I saw this book, and it was a story about dragons and magic! I had to read it. Up until then, I had never known/realised that books could be the window into another world, a world that I had only glimpsed in TV shows and Saturday morning cartoons. Dragons of Autumn Twilight fired my imagination. Then and there, I knew I wanted be a writer. And I wanted to read more epic fantasy novels now that I knew it was a thing.

I searched through all the books in my school library, and the local bookshops. The secondhand bookshop in Dee Why became my favorite place to search trough piles of old paperbacks and discover books from the US that were not in the Aussie bookshops.

I wanted to read epic fantasy with a single minded passion. And I wanted to write. I wanted to rewrite every book I read. I wanted to create something made other people feel the way these books made me feel and I wanted to play in the sandbox of my imagination and world build.

Then in 1990 found ‘The Eye of the World’ in the local library and my life changed completely. The desire to write became a passion that is still with me to this day, even when I became so lost in other writers works that I lost sight of my own. You see, I wanted to write but I didn’t have a story.

So I kept making notes, drawing maps, crafting ideas and reading other peoples work. Then one day I say a piece of fantasy art by Larry Elmore – an artist employed by Wizards of Coast, whose work I admire greatly – of two men fighting in a snow covered landscape. One wearing the trappings of a warrior or knight, and the other the robes of a magic-user (okay, the headdress makes me think shaman, but I transposed magic-user over it). I was captivated by the image and it made me wonder who the two men were, and why were the they fighting?

Deadlock by Larry Elmore

From these musings the back story of my two half-brothers grew, and the why of ‘why they were fighting’ gave me my story!

Of course nothing is a easy as it seems. I had no experience writing, I had not gone on to university after high-school, I did a six month Tafe course and then jumped into the retail work force full-time. I wanted to write and you need a job to support you until you are a international bestselling author, right?

Well, it took me many years until I had a first draft done. And it has taken more years to get the manuscript to the state it is at now (although the last six drafts have happened much faster then the 20-ish years it took to get a first draft ‘done’). And this is still not the end, but it’s getting closer to it.

Who knows if The Blood of the Spear will get published or not? But I will always be reading, looking at art for inspiration for my own world building and writing regardless of what happens next.