So, first off – YAY – the novel is finished. Except – BOO – no it isn’t. When I saw flyingnorth yesterday, she asked me how I felt about it. I said I thought it needed to be a lot shorter, and she gave me a surprised look and said “No, it needs to be longer – the ending felt too rushed.” And she’s right – and one of the reasons for the rushing was that my fluctuating confidence levels made me feel that nobody wanted to read any more after the initial ‘getting together’ thing and it was time to wrap it all up as fast as possible. I originally had a longer ending in mind but truncated it for that reason, but now I’m going to go back and write up the original ending. But not immediately. First, I’m going to continue with my edit, so I can get a feel for where we’re at, and how the pacing is going, and what feels right.
Another issue for me with not writing the longer ending originally, was that I worried about the length. I know I’ve talked about the issue of length before, but by chance the other day I came across some reviews to my stories, left in a place I didn’t know people were talking about them, and because they weren’t talking TO me but about me, they were obviously being quite frank in their comments. I’ve read lots of negative things about my stories over the years, and of course I went through that whole SGA experience when I couldn’t move for fandom Queen Bees telling me off for all my writing faults. It’s necessary to develop something of a thick skin. I see no reason why everyone should love my stories – I’m just glad some people do. I do the best I can manage, and if there are ways to improve, I do work on it. I think my stories have improved a lot over the years, but I’m still me, so they’re not going to magically turn into a completely different thing.
Anyway, one of these reviewers was saying my stories are too long, that I labour the point and am repetitive, and she felt 100 pages could have been culled from one of my big epics and it’d have been much better. As I’m already sensitive to the issue of length, I did think about ways to try and trim down any excess baggage. That’s been very much on my mind during the edit. The first draft of this novel came in at around 150,000 words. If I rewrite the ending it’ll be even longer. I AM anxious about that, but I’m going to just take it as it comes during the edit and do my best to take out anything that feels too ‘baggy’.
I said I’d be honest about the process in this blog, so I hope the process isn’t boring you all to tears. But I think it might be helpful to me when I come to write future novels to come back to this and think ‘oh yes – I felt this way then too’ because I so often FORGET just how much I’ve struggled with the creative process and always think it’s just THIS ONE that’s giving me trouble and usually they’re plain sailing. They aren’t. Ever! I’ve never yet written a long story that didn’t give me grief and heartache at some point. I think the thing with writing fanfic though, is that often I’d feel that way and then just throw up my hands and say “Oh, it’s done – I might as well put it out there. Someone might like it.” As this one isn’t fanfic, it’s harder to have that attitude.
And that, I think, is the source of all my angst generally. Because the writing honestly hasn’t been too hard. This wasn’t a difficult story to tell, and in places it was a lot of fun. It’s a light story for the most part, with a lot of relationship angst thrown in, but it’s all about romantic and sexual dynamics, so there isn’t a big case or mystery in there. I feel I’ve completely de-mystified the issue of creating original characters in an original setting. But with fanfic, you at least know people already love the characters and setting. With this one, I don’t know if they will. I’ve created a colourful but flawed bunch of people, but they don’t fit what I’m usually drawn to when I watch TV shows. In part, I think that’s because I wanted to create something original – I didn’t want to just write Tony and Gibbs avatars, or avatars of some other characters from TV shows I’ve enjoyed. I didn’t want to write about the traditional stern toppy character and the funny subby boy with attitude that he’s drawn to. I wanted to do something new. So that brings a wibble factor of its own. Is my dom too un-domly for people to like him? Is my sub too prissy for people to like HIM? Etc etc. It’s all a learning curve, and that, I guess, is the point.
I do love some of the new canon I’ve created for the universe – there’s lots of new stuff, and I like how I’ve managed to bring in a little bit of something new to the universe in each story I’ve written in it. But that brings a problem of its own – this is a fully formed universe because I’ve written several novels in it already now. But if anyone came to it new in this one – is it accessible? I don’t know if it is. I’m trying to explain concepts that have popped up in previous novels, like life-bonding and sharing a plate, without it feeling like I’m going into ‘exposition mode’. But it’s hard to tell if that works.
I do feel very excited about the possibility of writing MORE novels. I’m overflowing with ideas. But I’m very conscious of the need to finish THIS one first. Unfortunately, life is very stressful at the moment, in pretty much every area, and that affects my mood and confidence about writing. Sometimes it’s hard to open up the file without thinking ‘oh this sucks so much I can hardly be bothered with it’, whereas on good days I’m all ‘yay! I love this bit so much!’. That’s part of the ups and downs of the writing process, but they have been magnified on this occasion because it’s the first OC one.
I don’t have a graphic to post for it yet, but I was thinking it’d be nice to do a teaser post, so that’s what’s up next :-). On that subject, is there anyone who could make me an icon to go with it? I can send you some ideas for what I’m looking for! (Edited to say – gorgeous icons provided now!)