When It Becomes A Real Novel

Oh man. It’s been forever since I made a blog post! Rest easy knowing that I have been busy typing my heart out. It’s finally happened: my first fiction novel is a legitimate novel! I have reached 49,719 words!

It’s been hard, I won’t lie, but it’s been an exciting, engaging, and fulfilling challenge. A year ago, writing a full novel was simply a pipe dream. One that I could someday, possibly, maybe, go for. It was more of an ideal career, or a fun hobby that could turn into a lifestyle. However, now that I’ve made it this far, my thoughts have become more confident, but also more conflicted.

One part of me looks back, and I’m angry that I hadn’t hit this milestone sooner. I spent a huge part of my summer writing. I would go to the cafe, grab a coffee, and I’d sit down in a booth and type a whole chapter in one sitting. While I did manage to write about fourteen chapters over the summer, I remember all the hours I spent goofing off and playing video games. I enjoyed my summer, but now that I’m spending most of my week in classes and doing homework, and I’m lucky to write two chapters a week, I wish I had taken advantage of my summer even more.

Another part of me, however, realizes that writing is a process, and (at least for me) it takes having the right mindset. I can’t spend several hours a day writing, or else I become fried, frustrated, and frankly bored. It becomes a chore, a daytime job, rather than a passion and pursued career.

Regardless of how I got here, I am happy and lucky to have made it this far. I’m happy, because this was a goal, and I’ve finally reached it. It takes a lot of work and commitment to write a book, let alone reach the 40,000 word milestone. I’m proud of myself, and even more excited knowing that I have a ways to go still, and pretty soon I’m sure that my book will reach the 60,000 words mark, and perhaps even go farther when I go through and revise the draft.

I am, however, even luckier. I’ve had support from my parents, and I found a mentor to lead me through my journey. My professor, who taught a short story writing class last Fall, is the one who really pushed me to achieve what I have in the past year. A simple flash fiction I turned in for class turned into a short story, which turned into what my novel is today. For the last year now, she’s given me advice, criticism, and encouragement. One of the hardest things, if I can guess for the majority of writers, is to believe that what you’re writing is good. I can be excited for a character, a plot development, or a specific scene in my book, but believing that others will find the same enjoyment is hard. Perhaps it’s more important to believe in yourself, and while I agree with the sentiment, the reality is there are millions of writers out there who’ve been creating stories longer than me, and believing that my work can stand out, even slightly, among the rest is not always easy. Working with my professor has been a blessing in learning the practicalities of writing, and even more so in becoming more confident in myself, and I thank her for that.

But I can’t pat myself on the shoulder too much yet, I still have a ways to go. I am nearly finished with the first draft of my novel. I wasn’t lying when I said it could reach 60,000 words. I am nearly at fifty, and I still have another few chapters left to go. After I finish the draft, hopefully by the end of this month, I have to go through and revise the whole piece. I have scenes I want to add, chapters to polish, and one thing I’ve learned is I need to add more detail to my scenes. With all of that, who knows how long the book will be.

I am going to be giving more detail about my upcoming novel soon. I’ve finished the map design, and now I need to polish it and add text. When I share that, I’ll be giving some details, and perhaps an excerpt from the book! As of now, here’s my timeline. It’s going to be rough, but I believe I can pull it off:

October 31st – Novel draft completed, and beginning revision process.

November – Revise my draft, then by the latter half of the month, send it in for editing and proofreading.

December – Weeks 1/2 – Polish second draft, and begin to finish the final copy.

December – Week 3 – Organize final draft, find a cover.

December – Week 4 – Publish!

I’ll be honest, this is highly ambitious, and probably not very practical. However, I believe I can pull it off. For me, it’s a matter of sacrificing video games and anime. If I can focus on editing, and I believe that finishing my first draft will be enough of a high to do so, I don’t think that a month of editing will be too rough. I’m fortunate enough to be in college still, and that gives me a bit of an edge since I have more free time than some. The hardest part, I think, will be finals week and applying to graduate schools. I do have to dedicate a significant amount of time to those.

Also, another important note is that the novel will definitely be a series. I have a lot more to offer in the story’s world, and I believe the book could definitely become a three or even five part series. As of now, it’ll be at least three parts, but I think that I may end up modeling the series after my favorite writer and role model – Rick Riordan. I loved how he arranged his books into different ‘seasons’, each focusing on a specific arc. I don’t know if that’s the right way to explain it, but anyone who’s read Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus will understand. Right now, I need to figure out how I want the series to play out, especially how I want to deal with the main villain. He’s become a very powerful enemy, and I want to do the series justice in how the protagonist deals with him. I don’t want to cheapen the struggle, and I don’t want the story to end up ending with an ‘ex machina’ solution. Plus, the story and situation the protagonist is finding himself in is becoming increasingly deeper and broader than he (and even I) thought, and it’s exciting. At some point, I need to sit myself down and whip up an overall outline of the series. It’ll probably evolve, as I’ve been learning the throughout the past year, but I need to figure out what the series is building towards, or else it could end up feeling lost, or it may come off to the reader as just stagnating/losing its direction. My fellow anime (and even television shows in general) lovers will understand what happens to a show/story when it begins to be full of filler episodes. The last thing I want is the story to become stale. That’s something I will have to learn eventually, and I’m excited to continue to grow as a writer.

I am sorry that I haven’t been posting short stories. At the moment, writing my novel has been my ultimate focus. I have, however, managed to write several poems the past few weeks, and I’ve been sharing those in place of the stories. I want to get more short stories out there, but at the moment it’s not easy. I hope you’ve been enjoying the poems. I’ve started plans for a second poetry book, but I still need a lot more poems for it before I can work on arranging another chapbook. I’ll keep you guys posted.

Keep your eyes peeled for more poetry, and more updates on my novel. I’m considering some more ideas for spin-off stories based on my novel. There’s a lot of backstory and history that I don’t delve into within the novel, and I think it could be an exciting short story, or even a separate novel or series on its own.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks for checking out the blog.

Jessup

 

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