On Tuesday I finished my very first novella. It’s just under 17K words.
I only started it because I was getting tired of the romance book I am writing. The thing is, I have my book, which I have entitled ‘the paperback’ in my head, completely planned out. I know what my characters are doing, when they’re doing it (actually, not doing it, if we’re honest) and the confusion that prevails when an inexperienced marketing guru tries to kick start her friend’s music career. (PS — don’t do this if you are a marketing guru.)
About 4K words in I became annoyed at my character and I decided to get out my old journal, which I have been wanting to do something with for a long time. My journal, circa 1998, is about my final year of primary school and has plenty of good stories in it. I had quite an obsessive crush during that time, which is, unfortunately, well documented in my journal. When I was 18 I used to volunteer at a youth group, and I lent my journal to a few of the girls who were in Year 7. The one question they all had was, ‘Well, did you get together with David?’
‘No,’ I would say. ‘He has a girlfriend now.’ Of course, I started high school and forgot all about this time of my life, but the journal still made compelling reading. So, rebelling against my own creative flow, I started typing up selected entries, then began changing them, and then decided that something better had to come out of it. About ten entries in, I stopped typing, word for word, and flipped through my journal to find the interesting bits I wanted to include. I made the main character older, the girls catty, the boys nice and a little bit more diverse than my faded candid Year 7photos would suggest. My main character had a fast food job, went skating and read a lot of romance books, a world I knew well. It was this world that I had lived in, all through my teenage years, that I fell into, and within ten days I had finished my novella. The last two days I kept frantically typing. There was just so much I had to say, and I wanted to finish. My hasty pace was beyond sweet spot — it was pure desperation to go ‘blurgh!’ and throw my work up.
As soon as it was finished, I did a very quick reread and then sent it off to a beta reader. I’m still waiting to hear back. I know there are a few sections that need fleshing out, and a number of things I’m uncertain of. But, for the first time in ages, I felt like I had really accomplished something, and couldn’t have done it without my 12 year old self meticulously recording the tiny things that makes up a day at school.
Last night I went back to the paperback. I’m up about 1500 words, which isn’t a lot, but I haven’t had as much free time as I would like. Also… I feel unstuck now. I’m not going to wait until I’m inspired, I’m just going to write, and hope it makes sense.
And then, the big kahuna.
My thesis, which I won’t start for months, is actually a novel + an exegesis. I know what it is about, and have been planning it since this time last year. I wrote the first few chapters for an assignment, but in the meantime, I have been thinking about my characters a lot. A few people have read some of what I have written and I had some feedback, which is nice. I am really excited about this one, even though it hasn’t started.
Three projects at once, though.
Is that crazy? Probably. The thing is, writing, and the craft of writing, is so subjective and objective. There are a million different rules people have. Do this, do that, do the other. I’m just trying to work out what’s working for me.
I also really want my beta read report!