Sunday, March 11, 2007


The photo is of a spiral galaxy that emits a colorful, natural fireworks display. No actual fireworks or galaxies were harmed in the making of this image or this blog posting.

Yeah! Done! The first draft of THE ISLE came in at just over 130,000 words, only two of which actually fit together (duh-dum). If you overlook the purely random punctuation and the tendency to replace words that almost make sense with words that bear no relation to one another, the text could almost qualify as one of the greatest pieces of literature ever written by a monkey on a typewriter.

Disclaimer: No actual monkies or typewriters were harmed in the making of this draft or this blog posting.

I had to work against a lot of interruptions the past few days which made it a challenge to maintain the continuity at such a crucial time. I patiently kept at it, whenever I had time. Bit by bit it came together. It ran a little longer than intended because of some exciting new twists and turns that developed in the delivery of the climax.

It was like....

You know how great sex suddenly gets even better when everyone involved slips and slides and collapses in a heap on the floor, thereby spontaneously discovering a whole new approach that did not even seem possible just minutes before?

I'll take your word for it.

I think there are 51 chapters at this point, typically in the 2,000- to 3,000-word range. Some of them are actually divided into paragraphs.

At one point I confided to a loved one that it felt like I was in one of those Irwin Allen Airport movies, trying to land a severely damaged 747 with pieces flying off it, the wings shuddering from the gaping holes in them and an abandoned baby crying in a stroller on the runway below. Whoosh!

Well, I made it. The plane made it. And no babies or baby strollers were harmed, although the neighbor's children might have been adversely affected by all the screaming as I re-enacted the final scene with sound effects on a karaoke machine at 3 am. I was wearing headphones at the time. I didn't realize my voice could carry like that.

The story also ran a bit long because I took the time to explore some additional back story and foreshadowing for future volumes in the series, if I will indeed link my last novel and this novel and expand on them. I think I will. It's a great concept and made for a really gripping, fascinating ending to this second novel. If I take out the series aspects and make each novel a stand-alone work, each would certainly stand on its own. But linking them allows me to create another layer that really draws out a lot more from these same stories.

Thanks for the encouragment and support from those who have shared comments with me over the past months as I planned and wrote THE ISLE. I really do appreciate the support. I am happy to offer it as well. Sharing the ups and downs in this process does make it more bearable.

After 15+ years of trying to write without completing a single novel, I have now completed two first drafts (120k & 130k) in the past 17 months. That includes significant planning time and a few months of downtime. Actual writing for both of them together ran about 6 or 7 months, I think. Amazingly I wrote about half of this second novel in just the past couple of weeks. Once you get on a roll, things can really move along.

I feel so much more capable now after so many years of struggling to do this. I see that I can, and I've done it twice, and it got easier the second time. Practice hasn't yet made "perfect" for me but it has certainly helped. Now the challenge is to rewrite and edit and turn these first drafts into finished manuscripts which I can send out to agents and publishers so they can send them back to me with restraining orders prohibiting further contact.

I kept an eye out on the process this second time to try to discover what my hang-ups were that stalled the editing of my first novel. I think I have figured out enough to jump back into the first novel now and get some serious work done on it. The main issue was trying to edit where I really needed to stand back, throw up my arms in frustration then sit down for some serious rewriting. I know which parts need the rewriting.

I don't want to miss a beat, so I'll start later tonight with getting back to work on THE REFLECTING STONE! As I do, I'll also make some notes on THE ISLE to keep thoughts in mind for when I get to the second draft of this novel. celebrate. I want to see if I can spontaneously erupt into a human fireworks display. I'll keep a bottle of sherry on hand to douse the flames.

Warning: Stunts performed by trained professionals and/or unrestrained monkies. Do not try this at home. Or anywhere else.

Best wishes to everyone else working on a novel! And thanks for humoring me. I think I'm having one of those happy moments.



JM Snyder said...

CONGRATS Adrian! Yay yay!! I know that feeling of accomplishment all too well, and look forward to finding it once again when my current WIP is done.

Worry about editing later ... tonight you need to celebrate!

Adrian Swift said...

Thanks JM! I'm still discovering the joys of actually completing something. It's really, really cool.

Turns out I spent several hours going over the Mythology, which grew during the second novel. I have struggled with that before, but it was much easier this time to incorporate the new ideas since they meshed perfectly. I need this stuff pinned down clearly before I can proceed with either novel.

I'll be celebrating all week long, no doubt! But even while enjoying the sense of elation, I'll be happy to keep working. Accomplishment makes for great motivation!

Susan Flemming said...

Congratulations Adrian!!

Two, count 'em, two novels now complete in first draft. That is fantastic, Adrian and you deserve to celebrate. As always, I've enjoyed following your progress.

Gabriele C. said...

Congratulations on finishing!

Adrian Swift said...

Thanks, Susan and Gabriele!

Best wishes to each of you also, and to JM, and to others working on novels, for your continued progress and success.