Tag Archives: Writing

Finishing things, and things published

About ten minutes ago, I finally finished the first draft of my novel, The Cutting (still not 100% sure about that title though). I’ve been working on this off and on for three years, although I probably wrote about half of it over the last six months. The draft clocks in at around 145,000 words, so it’s the longest thing I’ve ever done, although no doubt after a lot of pruning it’ll end up a bit shorter. I’m at the stage now where I’m incredulous that it’s actually finished, although when I start working through the draft I’m sure I’ll reach that familiar and welcome stage where I’m just incredulous that I thought any of it was worth writing in the first place … I’ve no idea how long it’ll take me to get to a second draft, but the important thing is that I now have something sitting there I can work on. Generating the material is always the hardest part, but in many ways it feels like the least consequential one. Everything comes alive (or not) in the edits.

It was also a strange project in that I wrote most of the draft by hand. I’ve been so used to hectically typing stuff for Black Library recently that I’ve forgottten what a pleasure and a trial a handwritten draft can be. I went for the Neil Gaiman method of using a fountain pen as well, and these three Leuchtturm1917 pocket notebooks – very handy for just scribbling stuff down on the go:

All three are filled cover to cover with the handwritten draft, with a few extra pages added at the end.

(Getting the book written is one thing of, course; trying to get it published is quite another though, and that’s the stage I’m really not looking forward to.)

I have had a couple of stories published recently though. I didn’t make it onto the shortlist in the end for the Short Fiction Journal competition, but I have had a story published by the excellent Tether’s End Magazine. My story The Rookery can be read here. This was a story I wrote about five or six years ago when I was at Cove Park on a week-long writing retreat thing, provided by the Scottish Book Trust. I think I sent it to a couple of magazines at the time, but after it was rejected I didn’t really do anything with it. It just goes to show, it’s always a question of the right piece finding the right place at the right time.

Secondly, my Warhammer Age of Sigmar short story Dark Master, about the daemon prince Be’lakor, is available as an e-short on the Black Library site. People seem to have liked this one, which is great – it always feels like a gamble writing Black Library stuff that isn’t just out and out action.

So, my immediate plans are to start redrafting my fourth Black Library novel over the next week or so, before submitting it in July, and to then turn my attention back to The Cutting. If I could get a second draft of that finished by September or so, I’d be very happy. Oh, and I should probably keep this blog updated a bit more, now that I’m actually supposed to be a full time writer …

The numbers game

I’ve been writing my current novel for about three years (by ‘current novel’, I mean my own, non-IP or non-Black Library related work). That’s quite a long time to have spent writing a novel, but of course not every day has been spent actually writing it – weeks and months have passed where I’ve done nothing with it, and evenings have gone by in a blur when I’ve pushed it on further than I would have thought possible. Looking at my old notebooks I see that one year ago (9 March 2020) I had 10,000 words of it in hand, and it had taken me about two years to get there. At the moment, the draft is around 90,000 words, which means that 80,000 words have been added to that original 10,000 in the last twelve months.

But in fact, the numbers don’t tell the full story, because the vast majority of those extra 80,000 words were added in the last two or three months. And of course, even if I keep that pace up and manage to complete it in the next two or three months (I think it’s going to top out around 130 – 140,000 words), I still wouldn’t have a complete novel. All I would have would be a first draft, and that’s a very different beast.

I suppose in the end the numbers don’t really count, or not as much as you might think. I can keep track of them and feel like I’m achieving something as they mount up, but all I’m really achieving is getting myself closer to an arbitrary total, and I won’t know what I’ve actually got until I get there. I just hope it doesn’t take me another three years to find out.