The Magnum Opus: Where Did that Year Go?


Last January, I started work on a Speculative Fiction magnum opus as my project for Novel Writing Winter, 2013. My intention was twofold: to ward off the winter blues while completing a novel by the first day of spring.

NWWbeginsHow was I to know that once the story and its six major characters took hold of me, I would end up writing a novel of 83,000 words in length, instead of the intended 55,000?

Writer's Insanity#1Almost a year on, I’m proud of the novel but also frustrated as there’s still a fair bit of work to do. But submitting novels to literary agents prematurely is a bit like trying to sell a refurbished house before rectifying the snagging. So I must exercise patience.

Here’s my progress report for the year

  • I finished my first draft of 62,000 words at the beginning of August.
  • Did a read-through and basic tidy throughout the rest of August.
  • After much thought and further research, I did a total rewrite from September through to mid-November. This involved dumping the first chapter, adding and subtracting, cutting and pasting, and generally reorganising the story, which resulted in a longer novel of 83,000 words.
  • Late November, I threw my novel upon the mercy of two beta readers — one of whom, unknown to me then, was a professional freelance editor. Both readers loved the prose, but they picked me up some plot inconsistencies and problems with voice.
  • After feeling depressed for five minutes, I decided to focus on the fact that both readers thought I had a publishable novel there, if I sorted out the voice and plot problems (though not without a huge headache for me).
  • December started well, with me managing to revise the first 8,000 words to my satisfaction, but then the run-up to Christmas came along and the death of any chance of finishing the edit before the New Year.
  • So now my deadline is 31st January, 2014 and if sometimes I become unsociable, you’ll all know why.

Just to give you a taster, you remember the game of “Sevens” that was doing the blogging rounds? You can read my contribution to this here. The Pg 7 excerpt from my novel mentioned in that post now appears on Pg 66 of my revision, and the excerpt below on Pg 7.


She’s right, but I don’t know why this is so. There’s something bursting to show itself; something Ka won’t allow. It’s to do with my pink-worm and sacs. She still refuses to talk about them, as if they’re an evil part of me best ignored, yet if I ask her about the animals, birds, trees, flowers, weather or seasons, her answers flow out of her with ease.

I sit with the hem of my blood-stained jute-skirt wrapped around the top of my legs and stare through my mother, imagining she’s made of glass that one day I’ll smash into a million pieces.


Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. When stuck for words, she sketches or paints instead. She's into nature conservation, sustainability, gardening, dogs, natural health, and reading. Her sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

10 thoughts on “The Magnum Opus: Where Did that Year Go?”

  1. Commendable indeed Sarah.
    Hope you get all your edits done before end of jan, and that you can publish this – how cool would it be if that could happen!!
    i will totally understand if you become unsociable – after all, you accepted my unsociable-ness in november ๐Ÿ˜‰


    1. Very cool indeed, Ghia, and it would definitely be a dream come true. I’m so excited about this novel that I’m just dying for others to read it — hoping they enjoy the story as much as I have in its making.


    1. Thank you so much, Andrea ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think I’m wishing myself luck, too. It’s going to be very hard work but if I don’t set a goal, I’ll still be footling with it until the spring.


  2. A lot of hard work, a lot of energy invested and required. I think of that when people say “oh, I’ve always wanted to write a book” as though it’s something you can accomplish on quiet Sunday afternoon!


    1. Those people are mostly all talk and no do. They’ll be saying the same thing for decades and never get past the first sentence, if they ever try at all. Writing was a compulsion for me from about the age of eight and things just got longer and longer until I found my short stories started turning into novellas and then novels.

      If I finally make it, no doubt someone will call me an overnight success, but learning my craft has taken me decades!


  3. Congratulations on your achievements! I love the idea of Novel Writing Winter. Winter has always been a time of great creativity for me. It seems it served you well as well! Your patience will most definitely be rewarded. I wish you the best of luck in the future!


    1. Thank you, Michelle, for your words of encouragement ๐Ÿ™‚
      Novel Writing Winter was my answer to NaNoWriMo, as one month seemed rather a high-stress timescale in which to write an entire novel. I suppose it’s okay for some people, but I’m quite a slow writer, who likes to have long periods of pondering in between my times of actual writing. Quite a few people joined in with me with the winter write, some of whom had started but not completed their novels during NaNoWriMo. I didn’t run it this year, as I’m finishing off an edit and have to totally focus on that, but might do something again in 2015.
      Thanks for visiting my blog. Wishing you a happy and successful New Year.


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