Tuesday, 7 April 2015

100,000 Feathers

I am sitting here with a rather big grin on my face. Just crossed the magical 100,000 word count. For anyone who isn't R. R. Martin, that's a massive achievement. 

Rosy Hours waded in at 100,000 words and that's the longest novel I've written (Lucid coming in second at around 90k). So, it looks like we have a new winner! My swansong is likely to be around 120k by the time it's complete. 

The reason I'm smiling is because I've finally broken through. This hasn't been an easy write. There have been huge swathes, thousands of words long, that I have struggled with. 

I know I recently said 'when it's good, it's easy,' but that isn't the same as saying 'when it's hard, it's crap.' Writing isn't sex. When sex is hard work, it's usually bad sex. But when writing is hard work, that doesn't necessarily mean it's bad writing. Sometimes it's very good writing. It's just the winds aren't blowing your way, and you put your shoes on the wrong feet.

Anyway, the past couple of days I have been glued to the screen. About 10,000 words in three days, and last night I had a sudden brainwave. I feverishly scribbled down my next few scenes, worked out that there were five chapters left between me and the fall, and today wrote three of those.

What's 'the fall', you may well ask. Well, though I'm not religious, I have been known to ring church bells. Without getting too technical about the mechanisms of campanology, when you've finished ringing, you have to 'ring down'. When bells are up, they rest facing up to the sky. When they're not being rung, or when you finish ringing, they rest down, in the classical bell shape with the clapper facing the ground. To get them from up to down you let them 'fall'. After the call 'to the fall,' the bells swing faster and faster and faster until they stop.

I guess, for me, 'the fall' in a novel is that bit where you've finished the middle, and now you're speeding faster and faster towards The End. 

I have two more chapters to go before that point. Somewhere between 2,500-4,000 words.

And I'm excited. I'm looking forward to writing the end of this novel. Not because it's been difficult and I'd like to see the back of it (though I might have felt that halfway through), but because I think it's going to be an engrossing ending.

It seems strange that I've finally fallen in love with this manuscript right at the very end, but we never get to choose the course of our stories. The energy ebbs and flows. There are points in every novel where you want to squeeze yourself with delight, and others where you want to throw your story - and your laptop - off the top of a multi-story car park.

The best you can hope is that even when it isn't easy, it's good.

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