Archive: The Journey To 100k

August 18, 2017

first-draft-novel-bianca-bowers

This is a post from 2014 that was lost when I migrated my site last year.


I did it! I’ve got a complete first draft of my novel, The Colour Fence (now Cape of Storms).

 

first-draft-novel-bianca-bowers

Over the last two months I have written over 70,000 words and now have a completed first draft of 106,000 words.

I am aware that the real work is yet to begin; there will be countless edits, revisions and drafts ahead, followed by the search for an agent and/or publisher…but, before I think about that, I’m taking a moment to celebrate what has taken me 16 years to achieve – a complete, rough, first draft. I’d also like to share some of the obstacles I faced, how I overcame them, and which books I found invaluable.

 

The Journey

This, my first novel, has been marinating in my head since I left South Africa in 1998. The first working title, Crimson Handcuffs, came to me in a dream and it did not change for well over a decade because I did not write a single word during that time. While I had some good reasons for such a long delay, such as 4 international moves, marriage, and 2 children, I see that the main obstacle was simply not knowing how.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I convinced myself that genuine writers literally sat down and typed out an entire novel, in polished form, in a couple of weeks. In retrospect, this little fairytale is the stuff that my internal assassin dreams of, and so it is little wonder that I never made any progress until after graduating, and immigrating to Australia, in 2007.

In 2008, I was pregnant with my first child and I had time to spare. With the threads of a story weaving together and increased confidence in my writing ability, I dispelled the notion of the polished novel on the bookshelf and went in search of how-to-write-a-novel research. Of the five books I ordered, there was one that really spoke to my where-to-start issue – Your First Novel, by Ann Rittenberg and Laura Whitcomb. It imparted the genius of “carding the story” (Chapter 2, p 33), where you get a pack of 3×5 cards and write notes, ideas, character descriptions, scenes, themes (literally anything relating to your story) on separate cards until you have the outline of a book. Breaking the whole into small, manageable steps, was something that I had never considered before (DUH!), and, by the time the baby came, I had made more progress in 2 months that I had made in a decade.

With my first hurdle cleared, I felt one step closer to becoming a writer. Then the baby came and the concept of personal time became a thing of the past. For the next 4 years my novel slept peacefully while I adapted to sleepless nights and full-time motherhood to my daughter and son.

In 2011, the prospect of writing beckoned once again, but I was still immersed in all things children, and tackling my novel seemed overwhelming again. I decided to use the small-step-approach to write a children’s story. I saw it as a worthwhile creative writing exercise, not to mention a gentle step to reclaiming my ‘baby brain’ without stressing myself with the demands of a 100k word novel.

It took me a couple of months, but I managed to do it. I also found the gumption to submit it to an Australian and American publisher. 3 months later, I received a rejection letter from the Australian publisher, but, instead of feeling dejected, I felt like I was officially on my way to becoming a writer –  rejection was merely proof that I was trying.

In late 2011, I decided that motherhood was no longer an excuse to neglect my novel. I made a pact with myself to write every night between 10pm and 3am (depending on my children’s unpredictable sleep patterns). After 3 months, I had close to 40,000 words and I was ecstatic.

Of course, life is rarely smooth sailing for long and the pressures of a single income called for immediate action and interrupted my novel-writing once again.

 

fast forward to 2014

With 12 months of blogging and creative writing practice behind me, a completed poetry book, and 15 weekly writing hours available in my schedule, I decided that it was high time to buckle down and apply everything I knew to my neglected work in progress. I started by reading through what I’d written in 2011 and then promptly deleted 10,000 words. Between 30 May 2014 and 30 July 2014 I have written over 70,000 words.

It has been quite a journey. A journey that seemed doomed at times. A journey that sometimes made more sense to quit than continue, but I have finally reached my first goal – a complete first draft of over 106,000 words.

As I move into the next stage of editing, revising and rewriting, I will be using some other invaluable books that I’ve discovered along the way:

HELPUL RESOURCES FOR WRITERS

Sol Stein
The Little Red Writing Book
Baby Names
Roget’s Thesaurus of Words for Writer’s

 

What about you – did/do you have a psychological hurdle that delayed/delays you from drafting your first novel?

 

 

More about biancabowers

Bianca Bowers is the author of three poetry books: Passage (2015), Love Is A Song She Sang From A Cage (Retired), and Death and Life (Retired). She holds a BA in English and Film/TV/Media Studies and her poetry has appeared in Shot Glass Journal, Tongue In Your Ear, and The Art Toppling Tobacco Project. She finished writing her debut novel, Cape of Storms, in November 2016, and is close to completing her second novel, Lawn Chairs. Bianca is the founder of lobby4love.org and blogs regularly about Body, Mind, Spirit and Planet. You can find her at www.biancabowers.com and www.lobby4love.org