So, with retirement looming I had to make plans to fill those seventy hours per week with something, other than watching television, which I can't stand, or playing solitaire or candy crush, or reading which I do love, but I can never relax for long and usually read while on the treadmill.
This time my plan was to write a novel. I spent the first few months writing blog posts. Partly as a distraction, partly as a therapy—the circumstances of my retirement were quite traumatic; but mainly to get my brain in gear and get some writing practice. Over the first year I had a series of failed attempts at the novel. I discovered that I had a major hurdle to cross. If I made up a fictional story, I felt that I was telling lies. I mean, it wasn't true so therefore it was a lie, right? I struggled with that for a while and finally was able to let it go, after all, a painting is not a photograph, but it can still be a work of art...I think.
A few more attempts left me with a number of mediocre short stories, one of which I actually tried to publish—sending it out into the world to be met with a resounding silence, when I eventually did receive a response, a rejection but nonetheless a response, I can't tell you how excited I was. Finally, I hit on an idea that just might lend itself to more than three thousand words. During this time I had signed up for Masterclass and had listened to every writer class multiple times. As no new writer classes were added I searched for some other way to hone a skill I was still not sure I had in the first place. I found one website that was extremely proud of itself, charging up to four figures for the occasional courses offered. I didn't indulge myself there.
I returned to NaNoWriMo and on that website I found a discounted, membership to The Writing Mastery Academy (WMA)—a website doing exactly what the name suggests. I signed up, even without the discount it was reasonably priced. I discovered a massive amount of courses, webinars and a community of supportive writers in various stages of perfecting their craft. I also signed up for NaNoWriMo 2022 along with a large number of the writers in the WMA community. A daunting task, committing myself to writing approximately two thousand words per day for thirty days; one thousand six hundred and sixty seven words per day to be exact. I did it. on 27th November I hit the fifty-thousand word mark.
During the first week of December I read my 'novel' and deleted at least five thousand words. I went back and in the course of completing my first real draft, as opposed to madly writing whatever crap came into my head to fill the word count, I added back almost five thousand words. Still not exactly enough to make a novel, but enough to send to my alpha reader. After all, if she says it is mostly crap or backstory, I am going to have to start again anyway. However, I am hopeful that won't happen. I already have two definite beta readers lined up. My hope is that my alpha reader will give me enough feedback to direct me to where I can actually increase my word count. I already know that I have a tendency to be short on descriptions of locations and characters; this is because I have read some great stories where I skim over pages of flowery descriptions to get to the meat of the story. I am fairly sure this has made me hesitant to bore my potential readers in the same way, erring on the side of not enough as a result.
I fully expect at least two months of work to incorporate my alpha reader's comments and suggestions, my first draft will be hitting her desk tomorrow and I plan to concentrate on family, Christmas and my blog until it comes back to me, hopefully sometime in early January. If this is the case, my beta readers should get hit with their drafts at the beginning of March. The hardest part of that wait is going to be avoiding making any changes to the draft. Already I am thinking of places where I can, and should, fill in gaps; already I have possibly another three thousand words in my head, to add. I am making notes of these but I am determined to not change the draft in any way until I get my alpha feedback.
So, when will you be able to buy it. Ha! that is the big question.
I do plan to attempt to find an agent. Here again, WMA has a number of helpful courses on how to go about that. Naturally, the book has to be good enough, and I have to hit the right agent, but assuming that all falls into place, my understanding is it might be up to two years before the book is sold to a publisher, revised and ready for the market. I have yet to decide how long I will tolerate silence and, or rejections before looking at self publishing. Rest assured, you will all hear about it as it unfolds.
For now, I am still trying to come up with a decent title. Perhaps my beta readers will be able to help there, once they read the story.
Below are websites I referenced, in case you are interested.