On First Drafts and Timing

“Writing a book is hard. It turns out, writing a second book is twice as hard.” 

– Kami Garcia

I started the Google Document for The Weight of the Fire on September 29, 2016. As a reminder, it’s a novel based upon a short story I wrote in May of that year called Cade and Abram. I will have a better synopsis to give you at some point, but for now, think along the lines of… immortal twin brothers (to Abram, immortality is a curse, to Cade, it’s the BEST THING EVER), a kingdom divided between them, the sisters they are gifted as brides. Umm, what else… bloodshed, stars, guilt, fate, love in all of its forms, etc, etc. Really, stand by, I’ll have a real synopsis some day.

Anyway, I finished the first draft on October 15, 2017.

So, one could fairly conclude that it took me a little over a year to write this book. But, here’s the other fact: I wrote only 12,970 words between September 2016 and June 2017.

YIKES, past self.


There are a few factors at play in why I was such a slacker.

First was that starting a story is easy. It’s fun! I had this shiny new idea, and I got to dive into it and play with it and everything was sunshine and roses at first.

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But then, as happens, the shine and excitement wore off. My outline went left and I went right. I knew the voice of one of my perspectives like the back of my hand, but the other perspective’s voice eluded me. In other words, it got difficult.

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I eased out of the beginning and into the middle, and MIDDLES ARE THE WORST. They are setting up this elaborate dominoes arrangement and trying to get every piece just right because if you don’t, nothing will fall into place and the ending you’re working toward will not happen. I got very, very in my head about my dominoes.

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Alongside that, I had things going on in my personal life that shifted my priorities in strange ways. I MET A BOY, OKAY? You know how that goes.

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And while I don’t regret giving that area of my life the attention I felt it needed at the time, I do wish I’d been able to balance the two better. I still wrote, because I can never not write, but it was in shorter form (hello, Instagram account), next to no novel progress.

And then, the final factor is… I was querying ATWSOS. I was getting rejection letters. I was wallowing in those rejection letters.

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I would get a full manuscript request, and my hopes would lift, and then months would pass, and I would eventually get a rejection that was always kind and complimentary, but also, nonetheless, A REJECTION. It made it hard to sit down and write.

So, TWOTF paid the price for a long time. A more accurate accounting of how long this book took me to write is that, after those 9 lackluster months wherein I wrote just shy of 13k words, this is how I wrote:

I wrote 9,291 words in June.

I wrote 3,072 words in July.

I wrote 17,725 words in August.

I wrote 10,321 words in September.

And I wrote 29,188 in the first two weeks in October.

It should probably be noted that 17,127 of those October words came in two days, as I finished the draft. My brain was broken by the end of that weekend, completely out of words. I was Kermit, except taking brief intermissions to drink iced tea and walk my dogs. 

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Once I got back into the story after my lengthy hiatus, I fell back in love with it. It isn’t that it got easier. But I found my rhythm again, I realigned myself with my goals, and I wrote.

I tend to think that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that the timing of this book ended up working to my advantage. I am a different person now than I was last year when I started this story. Everything that happened over this past year – the relationship, the rejections, life in general – shifted me. It shifted my writing, and it shifted the story. This story would absolutely not be what it is if I’d written it last year, and I think that this version of it right here is what it is meant to be, what I always wanted it to be but couldn’t have written without the experiences of this past year. (Look, I just came out of a story about fate and the stars, cut me some slack here.)

So anyways, to summarize, to get to the part of this that gets exclamation points, I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT!

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I like to do a paper-copy readthrough to get a feel for what on earth I’ve just created before I start revisions, so I sent it on over to Kinkos, and yesterday, I got to pick it up and hold ALL OF THE WORDS. (It also got to entertain me during a very long freight train stop.)


My words have weight! They have heft! There are 82k of them full of love and life and yikes, a lot of darkness, but ALSO, hope.

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I will keep you guys posted on how revisions go. I’m hoping that I created the story I set out to write. I can’t wait to find out.

“Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period.”

– Nicholas Sparks

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