If Stories Were Wishes
The other night I had the coolest dream. It ended up that I was wide awake at 5am with a desperate need to write this stuff down. At first it seemed like this new idea would just be nice sci/fi short story. The premise is simple: a group of biologists on a new planet studying predatory fauna. It was going to be around 3500 words which makes it easy to write it up and give it to my friends who love to give me feedback on this stuff. Do a quick rewrite, then submit somewhere. Boom, done. Maybe a month or two.
If only it were that easy. Instead this story has expanded into a novel. I could probably keep it novella length, but those are especially hard to market. It’s sad really. Over 10,000 words and a story is too long for a short story. Under 60-70k words, and too short for a novel. And 60k words is still an awfully short novel. There is a gray zone, which my first novel currently occupies at 55k, between 10k and 70k. Now, mind you, I realize different genres have different typical lengths. A young adult novel doesn’t need to be more than 170-220 pages generally (about 45k-65k words). Likewise, a stock romance novel is often around that length as well. For mainstream fiction or genre fiction like sci/fi or fantasy, however, most books are 250 to 350 pages these days. Longer if it isn’t the first book from an author. Which is why with my novel projects I’m aiming for 75k-110k words.
So Novel Project 2 is apparently starting at the same time as Novel Project 1. That’s the fun of writing, I suppose. Can’t really plan anything. My brain is teeming with ideas for both novels, therefor it isn’t as though I can just ignore one and work on the other merely because one idea was first. With some of my ideas, I can do this. I have three other novel ideas, for example, that aren’t pressing themselves into my head as needing to be written right now. I know the basic plots of each of these, but the chars are staying quiet enough I can ignore them and write the others. The sci/fi novel isn’t staying quiet. This is a story that is demanding to be written.
I think the only way to possibly have hope of completing these projects is to break it up a little. Fortunately the projects are different enough that there won’t be crossover. One is somewhat hard Sci/Fi, the other very much Fantasy with some fairytale/historical elements. One is third person omniscient, the other is in first person. I’m going to handwrite the fantasy novel, which means it will take longer. That isn’t such a bad thing, however, because it will make the editing process easier and it will be something I can do on a longer time-line than the Sci/Fi novel. As much as it might make editing quicker to write both by hand, I’m not that much of a masochist. Handwriting stories is fun and I prefer it, but something that long is an exercise in endurance. I type about 70-90 words per minute when I’m on a real roll, which means I can do a page of story in about 3-5 mins if I know where I’m going with it. When I write by hand it takes longer to do the same amount of text unless I want my hand to cramp. (oh the memories of college lit exams where I had to write three essays by hand in 40 mins.)
So, to sum up:
By end of March: have Nano novel (working title Dangerous) edited and ready for second round of readers.
By end of June: have both novels (working titles are Chwedl for the fantasy and Predators for the Sci/fi) done in the first draft form and ready for first round of readers.
By end of September: have at least Chwedl ready for second round of readers and edits.
By end of December: submit Chwedl, have Predators ready for second round of readers and edits.
Of course, if I get into grad school, it could put a serious constraint on my writing times and needs. However, I don’t see this ten years ten novels project as being counter to getting my MA. At the least I can turn in parts of my novels for classes and hopefully turn one of my yearly novel projects into my thesis project. I doubt whatever adviser I end up with would mind the idea of the project, hopefully they will think it is interesting and worth helping me out with.
I know, too many ideas is probably the least of my problems. I read so many complaints from amateur writers about how they can’t find the ideas or they have writer’s block or something along those lines. This is never my problem. The problem for me with writing is that once you’ve written the story/novel, the work has just begun. Editing takes ten times the energy and time of actually writing. I’ll get the hang of it one of these days. I hope.