Tuesday, May 10

A first novel: End of the first draft

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? One-hundred and forty-four.
Words? One-hundred six-thousand and nine-hundred eighty-two.
Named characters? Forty-five.

Those are the sums of the complete first draft. It took me four full months and a few days more to write all that. A fair amount of some import changed in that time. There were five Lochilangor children then. Now there are four. It remains in the first person, but it is in the moment now and no longer a story retold years later. I thought in January to write only a thousand words every weekday and to spend the weekends revising what I had wrote. When I realized that my goal for this first draft was to write everything and not to write it well, I increased my daily words to two thousand and no longer expected to take breaks.

Are these changes for the better? Except for the increase in writing pace, I don't know. I think so, but I may very well come and change them back later after further consideration.

Now it is time for a break. The next few weeks are going to be busy ones as we move out of Bozeman, visit my family in Minnesota and fly back to Africa to see the kids in Kenya and see something new in Malawi. There will not be so much time to focus on the language of my novel then, but there will be time for thought and reflection. I have experimented with my characters. I have tried different personalities and directions for them. Now it's time to make decisions as to which are the best. I know the sections with which I struggled, and I know the research I need to do to reduce those struggles. I need to find the parts of which I am most proud and develop from them. I need to find the parts of which I am disappointed and change them. I have enjoyed tasting all the opportunities of what this novel could be, and now I need to decide what it will be.

It will still be time for writing. There are two short stories, "As The Spirit Moves You" and "The Happy Housekeeper," to complete. There are new stories to write and submit to the next volume of Machine of Death.

It will be good times, and in a month I will be ready for another round.

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