I’m actually on time this week. Like, really on time. Like, on Wednesday as I’ve intended. Weird, eh? Feels good.
That being said, I’ve honestly not been terribly productive this week. It is what it is, but I wish I had gotten more done. Entirely my fault – I’m easily distracted by video games.
I’ve not touched The Rule of Iron this week, apart from reading over a bit of feedback. Last week I sent out the first portion of the novel to some lovely people who were willing to beta read for me, and I’ve received a few of those back much quicker than I had anticipated.
Really, I ought to just jump in and keep slamming my head against the wall that is my novel, but so far I’ve just been waiting until I’ve received most of the beta reads back. I’d like to see if my readers’ thoughts will help me to re-plot and revise the next long portion.
I did get some more work done on The Legend of Brian Yarla-son, though, which feels good. My original thinking was that this ought to be a short story, but as I fiddle with it, I could see it becoming a novella. To some degree, it’s just exciting to be working on a new project. Plus, I’m writing in the same world as Rule, so I get to continue fleshing out and fiddling with the setting.
The Rule of Iron was originally written as a NaNoWriMo project. While I worked a fair bit last October on writing my original outline and devising notes on the setting and characters, it has become painfully clear to me that my notes weren’t anywhere near thorough enough. But, that’s what learning is for. Discovery-writing my way through the setting, characters, and plot has been fun, but I think I’d rather have had a really thorough idea of what my world is like and where my story travels. Had I done so, I don’t think revision would be nearly as difficult as it has been.
That being said, I’ve been thinking a bit, and have come to a decision:
I will stop working on The Rule of Iron on December 31st, 2017.
Why? Because I’ve nearly reached the six-month mark of 2017, and I’m not even a quarter of the way through developing my second draft. That’s largely my fault (and I think it would be bad thinking to assume that I ought to be halfway to a publishable piece at six months), but after a year of working on Rule, I think it will be time to let it go. Not forever, but perhaps for a good long while.
Whenever I read about a writer’s early career, I often hear about the “trunk” novels, novellas, or short stories. Few first novels, even after revision, are worthy of publication. Sure, I could self-publish my work right now and say I’m a published author – many people do so – but I want any stories I tell to be good, not just ‘out there.’
My intent has always been to reach a point with Rule where I’m at least moderately happy with it, it has been professionally edited at least once, and to then pursue traditional publishing (starting with agent queries, and moving on from there). At the start of the year, my goal was to reach that point at some point during 2017 and begin working on a new project while querying during 2018. If I was unsuccessful in queries, then I would consider self-publishing.
The advent of self-publishing digitally is a wonderful thing – but it has lead to a market flooded with mediocrity. On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect a certain level of quality out of any book produced through traditional publishing. Excellent books have been written and published by independent authors, but I suspect that many of those were not debut novels.
Or, if they were, they were the product of years and years and years of development, writing, rewriting, and editing. Novels such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J.K. Rowling), The Name of the Wind (Patrick Rothfuss), and, of course, The Lord of the Rings (do I even need to?) were all the result of a decade of work, if not more. Granted, to even consider placing anything I would accomplish on the same shelves as those books is lunacy, but even so I have found myself asking – if it would take that kind of work for me to reach that goal of being “happy with” The Rule of Iron, am I willing to do so?
The simple truth is that Rule isn’t a novel of my heart in the same way as it was for those authors, and many others. I like the story – obviously, otherwise it never would have gotten written – but I’m not willing to put years of work into it.
I chose to write “Swordsmith” (my original title for the piece) for National Novel Writing Month last year specifically because it wasn’t as important to me as other stories rattling around in my brain.
I chose to write a story which I’m not permanently attached to primarily for practice. I wrote The Rule of Iron because I knew I could set it aside if necessary. I fully hope that I won’t have to do so – after all, this is a moment which will come all the way in December – but it feels important to set this deadline for myself.
So. On other notes, I’ve been reading a lot this week, too. I just started reading Stormfront, the first book of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. I also re-read my way through Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles (the first book is Hounded), which was a total treat. The first several books in the series are a blast, and I’m curious how Hearne will finish the series in the next few books.
In particular, I’ve been trying to read mostly first-person POV fantasy. My own book, after all, is first-person, but most of what I read is in third. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to steal some tips and tricks on sentence structure and perspective.
Anyway, that’s all for me this week. Long one.