Eighteen months after I started it, and following a complete grinding to a halt and then a gradual resumption of activity, I have now finished the first draft of my latest novel.
Yes, Another Life lives.
Having done quite well on writing a little of it every day from the beginning of January until the end of March, I then had a bit of a collapse in April. However, from the first of May onwards I wrote something every day until last Thursday (when a long working day at the Royal Norfolk Show rather wiped me out), and throughout June sometimes wrote a few thousand words a day, keeping things motoring along nicely.
The end came unexpectedly. The novel is told from two different first-person perspectives, of two ladies called Rachel and Linda. I knew I was coming towards the end of Linda’s section, but I hadn’t actually been writing it all in order. I’d ended up writing bits and pieces from across her story, and it was only after finishing a chapter with a final few hundred words today that I checked my notes and realised...
Well, that’s it for the first draft, of course. Nowhere near the end of the work. As always with any first draft of a novel I’ve written, the overriding feeling is one of disappointment in myself. Because, as is frequently the case, I think that I have a very good central idea at the heart of Another Life, but I am far from sure that I am a good enough writer to pull it off.
I don’t entirely hate the whole thing. I am fairly pleased with Rachel’s section, which is surprising as she was the one I thought I knew least and would have the most trouble writing. But I think she actually ended up living and breathing as a character far more effectively, whereas Linda... Perhaps it’s too early to tell.
My intention now is to do absolutely nothing with it for a couple of months, just leave it to settle so I can come to it with a fresh eye and start the process of editing, cutting, improving... I already know it’s too flabby – I had envisioned a short, pacey novel of 60,000 words or so, but the first draft stands at 81,299. Which is far too long for the story being told – too much waffle.
But at least it exists. Improving something is always easier than trying to conjure it out of the air. As to whether it gets me anywhere... Time will tell.