Oh my gosh, I am so excited that I don’t know where to begin. I guess the title of this entry says it all: I’ve actually completed a draft of a novel! Yep, All’s Fair (AFiLaW) is the first one. While I’ve spent a lot of time working on Ravens and Roses and have called each stage its own “Draft,” that story is still missing pieces of it and therefore should probably not be titled as such. But that’s just splitting semantic hairs, so moving on!
I hammered out the plot and characters for All’s Fair in October 2015 and started writing on November 1, 2015. As of January 31, 2016, I have a complete story ready for beta reading. Wow. That’s 170 pages written in 92 days. There aren’t any gaping holes that need to be filled in or scenes that haven’t been written. Obviously things may be adjusted, dropped, or added during the editing process, but you can actually read it from beginning to end. I’m still a little stunned at this; the only other complete novel-length stories that I have finished are fan fiction. (Yes, I know, I need to get back to “Nakishojo.”) And those took me years to complete! The fastest I’ve ever written was for the Dark Crystal Author Quest back in 2013, which took three months, but was still not really complete. Not like All’s Fair.
Even though this project was started because of a challenge to “just crap something out,” I’m actually pretty proud of this story and its characters. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them, watching them evolve and gripe at one another. Despite the speed at while it was written, I feel like All’s Fair is a solid piece of work, one that I’m willing to submit for publication without being utterly devastated by the inevitable rejections or editorial adjustments. It’s an experiment and a learning experience, the fruits of which I hope to share soon.
So, what’s next? February is going to be a kind of “read, rest, and research” month. All’s Fair is being passed on to three or four beta readers to be looked over. I need a little bit of a break to reorient myself creatively. And I need to do some research to prepare for the dive back into Ravens and Roses. (A scene with Scion and Janus came to me the other day, so I know it’s time to return to Marina.) I also want to take advantage of NaNoWriMo by writing a massive chunk of a new narrative each November in the hopes of actually turning out finished products in one or two years rather than seven or more. Lord knows I’ve got plenty of shorter, more modest projects that I could tackle, like DragonFriend, Rinamathair, or Jewel and the Skyrunners. (I’m a bit tired of fantasy stories being spread over three or more books, so hopefully a good portion of my future work will be stand-alone novels, or books that are loosely connected by being in the same universe, but at different time periods like Ravens and Roses or Seahawks and Storms in The Mariner Sequence.)
That’s the game plan, and we’ll see how that goes. I’m still trying to balance my time, but that’s going to be a life-long battle, so I should get used to it. There is never enough time to do everything but, as Gandalf said, “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”