Last Tuesday I finished part one of the second draft of my novel. It’s hard to take myself seriously when I even say “my novel”. Movies and TV have characters who refer to their novel and it’s usually a joke. So I try to right away dismiss any notion that I ever want to be published. I claim that I just write for the joy of writing. It’s like putting together a giant picture puzzle as I paint the picture at the same time. To be honest I have willed myself not to think about publication and just focus on the writing at hand. It mostly works. But the last time I was in Barns & Noble Bookstore I did look in the F section right where something I wrote would be shelved.
I started writing Icarus in 2006 and two years later had a complete first draft of about 50 thousand words. It was divided into five parts. I think I had every intention of taking it right up again and revising it but I didn’t. It sat there for over a year before I finally took it up and began a complete revision. The first draft was mostly first person with other parts in third person. My re-write has it all in a very limited third person. The first draft had an abysmal prologue which I eliminated. A well known rule of writing is “Show, don’t tell”. This prologue was narrative exposition that dreadfully broke that rule. This time I wrote scenes with action and more backstory instead. I made life more difficult for my main character to make him more true to who I thought he was. Other characters were fleshed out too. When I finished part one last week I looked at the word count. It is 18,343 words. My first draft part one had 8326.
I noticed something in my writing of this second draft. When I was writing the first time I was really battling some inner demons. I had lost Naomi, been fired from my teaching job and sometimes struggled to keep up with the surveying job. I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and was on meds. For a while I was on two meds. Then I lost my surveying job and spent six months unemployed. I kept writing through that and continued into my new job. But it was all very turbulent and I think my writing reflected it. My main character battles some serious issues with his past, trusting others and surrendering to what is right. There are parts of the story where this razor’s edge really shows in his emotions. That was me in the past.
Today I have overcome a lot of that pain that I was channeling back then. My life felt just like that raw first draft with exposed nerves. But I got help and after a lot of work and support from others I think that I am finally over a dark time in my life. It seems that I’ve started my own revision of my life now. I don’t know if I will ever be able to channel that anguish and paranoia into my writing anymore. We’ll see.
One thing I am sure about. If I’m never able to put that edge back, the healing I have now is worth losing anything else.