I just spent six weeks writing the first draft of a novel. The time I spent on it was the best I've ever had over a similar period in my life.
This also explains why I haven't posted an entry since June 16th.
I think what I'm going to do is write about the second draft experience "with the door open," as Stephen King would say.
Since I'm not going to start the second draft until August 29th, I have some space to fill between now and then, don't I? So I'm going to write today and the next weeks about how the idea came to me, because it was extraordinary.
In early June I visited my friends Chris and Colleen in Rogers Arkansas, a beautiful part of the country, spectacular, actually. We had a wonderful time, and I left for home Monday morning.
On long drives I like to listen to a combination of music and books on disk. On the way back I listened to Stephen King read his "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft." Well, not all of it. The drive back wasn't quite long enough, but no matter. I've read it and listened to it a number of times.
This go around, though, must have jarred something loose, because by the following Sunday I had a story land onto my imagination like manna from heaven. I grabbed a note pad and scribbled down the premise as fast as I could, omitting nothing that occurred, regardless of how stupid it sounded. I asked a couple of people what they thought. They said it sounded great. Those kind folks may have been humoring me, but since I hadn't written a word yet, they wouldn't have had a reason to.
Idea after idea for character and plot came to me that day, and I resolved to try an experiment and outline the whole novel before putting a single word on the page.
That experiment lasted until the next day, Monday morning, which happened to be a day off.
I couldn't resist. I opened up a word document and started. The following were first words I typed:
Begun in Irving, Texas Monday June 18th, 2012
The next were "Chapter One" and I was on the back of a horse flying across the plains at breakneck speed.
I wrote every day.
My goal was five hundred words on the four days a week I had to work ten hours, and a thousand words a day on my three days off.
I laugh now, because I didn't come anywhere close to that on most days. I would find myself writing a thousand to twelve hundred, never falling below seven hundred, on my working days, and two thousand to thirty five hundred on my days off.
Never once during the writing time did I question it. Never once during the writing time did I stop and wonder how this was possible for me. Never once at any point did I think it wouldn't continue until I finished.
The end of the writing day, though, offered a different point of view. I would often look back, scratch my head and ask myself, "Did you really do that, Rock?"
After a time, I started posting my word count on FB occasionally. All right. Often would be more like it. Friends would "Like" it, and comment and cheer me on. I'll always be grateful for that wonderful support, by the way.
It felt good, and turned me toward the next day and my visit with these wonder characters. And I couldn't wait to get back to the computer.
Stay tuned next week for Part Two