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.
Almost 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.