Week in Review

Hello, dreamers. It’s been an interesting week.

Whenever I complete a major project, there’s always a certain amount of soul-searching. It’s only natural, I suppose, but I often find myself, after spending months (or years) with a single story, asking “Now what?”. This week, however, the answer to that question came from a very unlikely source. I’m still not sure where this will take me, but I’m eager to find out.

That being said, we’ll start with what I am now considering my new work-in-progress:

Pathfinder

It appears I have, indeed, come full-circle. Thus, I now find myself being immersed in my previously-abandoned work-in-progress.

Thus far, I’ve only written about a page or so of new material, but that was to be expected. As I’ve said, this novel is a mess. Years of frustration and second-guessing have taken their toll: the master file is a jumble of half-completed or partially-rewritten chapters, while my scene files are bursting with multiple versions of various scenes. I have at least four distinct versions of the opening chapter. Sorting through all of this will take time.

I’ve spent most of the past two days just trying to reconcile the various existing versions of this scene or that, trying to find some semblance of cohesion while choosing the best existing version of each scene. I’m starting to like what I have, but I’m also starting to feel that my efforts are for naught.

While this is a bit more extreme, the state of this story reminds me of The Pioneer before I took it up this past summer. With that one, I found it easier to write good material if I simply discarded everything I’d written and started from scratch. And so I did: I tossed everything I’d written to that point into a separate file and started fresh. At times, I did refer back to my existing work for reference, now and then even re-inserting lines of text I felt fit well with what I’d written, and thus saw no reason to write again. And that seemed to do the trick. Only six months later, I had a completed first draft.

Part of the reason for all the abortive rewrites in Pathfinder was that, for some time, I found the prospect of writing everything over again daunting. Looking back, I’ve realized that I didn’t have much of a point going into it. I was directionless, and thus ended up on odd tangents that took more from the story than they offered. Now, it feels different. I can see the characters, hear their voices. I can picture conversations. And I know where they’re going.

Perhaps, then, the time has come to start over, with a fresh perspective and a new direction. Only time will tell.

The Pioneer

While I’ve been mostly staying away from my first draft, I did pass a major milestone this week: for the first time, someone else read the novel.

The reader in question was a close friend, a discerning reader, and one who seldom reads science fiction. And it went far better than I could have hoped. She gushed about the story, told me she couldn’t wait to read the eventual sequel. Far more important, however, was that she noted a number of things she really liked about the story, and virtually all of them were aspects I’d felt insecure about.

I still have a ways to go, however. I do have another friend currently reading the novel, and I plan to wait to begin revisions until late this month. No doubt there are plenty of changes yet to be made. But this may mean I’m much further along than I’d believed. If nothing else, it was a welcomed shot in the arm.

That about does it for this week. It may not look like much, but I feel I’ve accomplished a few things this week, and I’m eager to see what lies ahead. For now, keep reading, and dare to dream. – MK

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