Sunday, February 27

A first novel: Impatience

I am growing impatient with this draft. When I began writing, I had estimated this first sketch of a plot and character to run somewhere around eighty pages, certainly no more than one hundred. This week I broke sixty pages. It'll be at least another two weeks of writing, somewhere around another fifteen pages, before the characters leave their tribal homelands for Nairobi. I've been expecting the Nairobi portion of the novel to be the longest, something like half of the entire work. Assuming these estimates are any more accurate than those I made at the onset, this original draft will run near one-hundred-and-fifty pages, and I won't complete it until the end of April. That's a lot and a long time.

On the one hand, this is cool. The novel's long. That's legitimate and respectable.

On the other hand, what I'm writing right now is garbage. There are no details. There is barely more dialogue. It's characters doing things in the minimum number of words, so they can hurry on to the next thing.

This was the idea. Write quick and write dirty now, and write it better later. So far it has worked. I'm glad I've done it. I haven't gotten myself hung up on names and eye color and all those other little minor points.

But I find myself lately wishing that what I was writing now was better. It'd be nice to have more fully developed characters who spoke to each other not through paraphrase. It'd be nice to take some time to imagine what these characters and the landscape look like.

For now I am quashing the wish. I believe it's better to know where it's all heading before I start putting an effort into these details that might later be invalidated by the novel going in entirely unexpected directions. This week I sublimated the wish by writing a few stories for The Inlander's contest. Maybe working on and completing other short works in the interim will keep me happy until I can bring a greater attention to the novel. Maybe you would like to see some new fiction from me. We'll see.

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? Sixty.
Words? Forty-four thousand and one-hundred-and-five.
Named characters? Thirty-one.

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