It’s starting slow. This is
Part of writing a novel is driving
in the dark and trying to see where the road takes you. Even if you know where
you’re going the path you initially take in a first draft can lead you astray.
Just like when you’re lost driving around country roads, you’re bound to take a
few that meander and go nowhere.
This is what Anne Lamott refers to
as “shitty first drafts” in her amazing book on writing, Bird By Bird. This is why, I believe, many talented writers never
finish their novels or never decide to do anything with them if they do indeed
reach the end. It’s so hard to make the average appear extraordinary. It’s so
easy to see the brilliant and beautiful over the mediocre, yet it’s so
difficult to actually pull of yourself.
My talent has always been to
persevere and just get the thing done. I’m stubborn and probably foolish and
surely way too hasty. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try hard. It doesn’t mean I
have moments where I wonder if I’m a complete and utter failure.
So why, then, am I blogging one of
those awful first drafts this year for the world to see? Good question. Maybe
I’m a sucker for pain.
I’m writing a novel called The Howling Wind. It’s the first of a
three-book series called The Hinterlands. Here’s a little description about it
on this blog here.)
The story is currently on Chapter 4. Check out the website where you can either read the novel or listen to the audio done by the guys at
Two and a half months into this
project/experiment, I have to say that it’s strange. I’ve never realized how
much a novel can change and how often I go back to tweak and correct or toss
out material. I’m not doing that with The
Howling Wind. If and when it ever becomes edited, I know it’ll change.
Perhaps some material will be cut or majorly tweaked. But for now, when I post it I
won’t change it (except, of course, when there are obvious mistakes that need
My thoughts on the book so far. I
knew that the first chapter is very autobiographical in ways. I hesitated to
start with Will simply because I know some people might say oh dear a book about Travis no thanks. But
he’s not me, just very similar in some ways.
His chapter was okay in my estimation.
I really like the character of
Allie from the second chapter. I’ve struggled in ways to figure out where to
begin with her, and I like the way I did it. I was pleased with the overall
The third chapter—that’s a tough
one. That might be one in the future that gets cut. In my mind it’s okay. I give it a C if I had to grade
The story is starting off slow, but
that’s a conscious decision I’ve made. With the number of different characters
in the story and all the things going on, I’m really trying to help any readers
who will take the journey with me. It’s a massive work in my mind when I see
the whole thing. So I feel like I have to take it slow. I don’t want to bore
readers, of course. But I need to try to set the stage in a careful way.
I had a case of writer insecurity yesterday
when thinking about The Hinterlands. A rational and sane voice asked me what I
was going to do a few months from now if I knew there was only thirty people reading this thing? What
if each post is viewed by fewer people?
Will I simply quit and try something new?
I quickly shut up this voice. My
hope is that I’m going do this and finish the novel and eventually finish the
whole series. For this project, it’s about the story and about getting it out
of my head and heart. I believe it’s worth telling, so that’s why I’m doing it.
Is this the best way to do it? I don’t know. I’ve done a lot of dumb things in
my writing career. In so many ways I feel like I still haven’t really started. But with almost forty
books in print, I can’t exactly say that, can I?
I hope there are some of you who
take this journey. Maybe simply to see what a first draft looks like. Maybe I’ll
inspire some people to start and finish that novel they’ve been wanting to
write. “If this hack can do it maybe I
My head isn’t just full of the
nagging, insecure voices. It’s also full of the blathering, braggadocious ones.
Every day I try to balance them out. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer in the first
Labels: Hinterlands, Howling Wind, THS, works in progress