Chapter 3 – I Could Do That!

“Hey, I’m writing a novel!”

“Really? Why?”

Sound familiar? Maybe they don’t say it out loud, but you can see it in their eyes–a look of bemusement, skepticism, or worst of all, flat-out pity. Why, oh why, indeed?

It’s a fair question. I suppose everyone has their own answer. Some will tell you that they have to write, that they’re compelled to write, that they couldn’t imagine life without writing!

I wish I could say the same. It seems like such a deep response–so artistic, so profound. But if it was true, why did I wait half my life to write my first novel? Clearly I was alive before, wasn’t I? And if not, who’s been drinking all my juice?

No, I’ve always been more of a reader. Like most readers, I always thought I could write a book if I really wanted, but I never actually bothered. It seemed like a lot of work (spoiler alert: it is!).

So why start now? For one thing, I’ve been reading a lot more lately. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the rise of e-books and their sheer convenience. Maybe it’s a deep-seated need to fill my mind with something intellectually stimulating. Maybe there’s just nothing good on television anymore.

Whatever the reason, I’ve been reading more.  I wish I could say it was all great literature, but truth be told, most of it is pop fiction. You know, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games–popular books like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed them all, sometimes immensely, but as I read these books, part of me can’t help but think, “I could do that!” Do you know the feeling?

I could do that!

I wonder how many careers started with these four words? Then again, it probably ranks just behind “Watch this!” for famous last words.

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Chapter 2 – The Story So Far

Okay, confession time. We’re not at the beginning of this journey. We’re somewhere in the middle, but probably closer to the beginning than the end.  No, it’s not one of those plot devices where the story unfolds in a nonlinear fashion. I’m just late to this blog.

So here’s where we stand. I’ve already written the first two drafts of The Woodlander. The bad news is you don’t get to watch me stumble through that process. The good news is you don’t have to watch me stumble through that process.

But I’ll give you a quick recap of the last six months anyway, just so we’re all on the same page.  I started writing The Woodlander back in February 2012.  I spent about four months writing the first draft. I wrote three to four hours a night, usually after I got home from work, aiming for two thousand words a day, but usually settling for half that. When I was finished, I had about 90,000 words. What can I say? I’m a slow writer.

As I was writing, I was also learning the craft. Things like dialogue attribution, “show, don’t tell,” or even basic grammar. By the time I finished the first draft, I immediately wanted to go back and fix all the things I did “wrong” in the previous chapters. I have a feeling that will never change. Right or wrong, I decided to make another pass through the book. I finished the second draft in mid-June.

But that was almost six weeks ago! What have I been doing since? Not much, just walking around, looking at stuff…

Okay, not really. I have been doing things, just not working on The Woodlander. I’ve been reading a lot. I also started the sequel to The Woodlander. Just four chapters so far, but I’m very excited about it. And I started this blog. So I have been working, just not on The Woodlander.

Why not? Because that’s what Stephen King recommended. No, not to me personally, but in his book On Writing. The idea is to take at least six weeks off from your book, and when you revisit it, things you never noticed will jump out at you. Yeah, Stephen, that’s what I’m afraid of!

That may be the scariest thing the master of horror ever wrote, but I figure the man knows a thing or two about writing, so I’m giving it a shot. My six-week break ends next Wednesday, August 1st. That’s when I start the third draft. Hopefully I won’t encounter any problems too big to fix. Even worse, maybe I won’t see the problems. If so, I blame Stephen King for all my failures as a writer.

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Chapter 1 – The Writer

Hello. My name is Kirk Watson, and I’m a writer.

Or at least that’s the dream. I mean, I am a writer, but not professionally. Not yet, anyway. Unless you count writing software. That’s what I currently do for a living. But at night and on weekends, I write fiction.

I’m in the process of finishing my first novel, The Woodlander. What’s it about? I’m glad you asked. I like to describe it as a cross between The Wind in the Willows and The Most Dangerous Game…

That still doesn’t help? Okay, fine. The Woodlander is a fantasy adventure novel for young adults set in Victorian-era Woodland, a mythical place where talking animals live peacefully together. But life in Woodland isn’t a fairy tale. Woodland has a dark side–some of its less desirable citizens have been disappearing, kidnapped from their homes, never to be seen again. When our hero, a squirrel named John Grey, sets out to investigate, he too is kidnapped, and soon finds himself in a fight for his life!

That’s just a quick description and, quite frankly, not a very good synopsis. We’ll work on that later–we’ll need it for the query letter! But don’t worry, I’ll get to it, and when I do, I’ll take you along for the ride.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you why I’m here. The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my quest to get published. Like many of you, I find the whole process to be quite mysterious. I think of all the authors I admire, and I wonder, “How did they get started?”

And I don’t mean in a vague, one-paragraph bio sense. I want to know the nitty-gritty details. Where did the idea first come from? How did they start writing their first book? What is their writing process? How long did it take to finish the first draft? Just how did they get an agent?

And I’ll dive even deeper. For example, I read Stephen King uses a Mac. Well, I want to know what model exactly? What word processing software does he use? What’s his backup solution, and has he ever had to use it?

I’ll be sharing all these tidbits from my own personal experience as I go through this process, sometimes in excruciating detail. And if I leave anything out, feel free to ask.

Why this level of detail? I guess I just find it fascinating, and I hope you do, too!

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