With the release of my official debut novel, The Haunted Halls, a few weeks away, my next novel nearing completion, I feel compelled to share the arduous task of seeing one of these bad boys through. It’s all that blood, sweat, tears they talk about in the movies (do they talk about writing novels in movies?), but it’s so much more. It’s daunting. It’s fucking tiring. Yet, when it’s all polished, covered and released…well, it’s gone. And if you are a glutton for punishment, you either dive back in with a fresh idea, or charge headlong back into the one you already have cooking on the old laptop or in the notebook. I shared the odd tale of the Haunted Halls a few weeks back. Now, I’d like to let you in on the story that’s been wearing me out since the beginning of June.
My current novel, Window, as of this morning, rests at 50K words. This one was originally started in November of 2011. I had one finished manuscript on my computer (my unreleased werewolf novel) and had just finished my first short story (another one collecting dust while it waits for a makeover). I really loved and still love my werewolf novel, but I wasn’t quite sure what direction to take with my next novel. Honestly, I was still exhausted from the first novel. It took me three months to complete the first draft and another month of doing those first edits. The short story was a fun little excursion, but I had that sickness. I had the bug. I wanted to create another book.
Enter Bruce Springsteen.
First off, let me tell you, this book has nothing to do with Springsteen lyrics or themes. There are plenty of those out there. And my Samhain debut, Abram’s Bridge, certainly borrows its title and genesis from the boss’s classic, “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Window, however, is its own story. Bruce’s contribution came by way of the Wings for Wheels documentary that was included in the 30th Anniversary edition of Born to Run. I don’t remember the exact quote, but Bruce talked about how he wanted Born to Run to be different from his first two records. Instead of just writing songs, he wanted to write songs that would resonate. He chose themes that were timeless. He told stories that were filled with longing, heart, and the need to get out. That hit me on the spot. That’s what I wanted my next novel to be. I didn’t know what I wanted it to be about, but I wanted it to resonate. I wanted it stick with you. That meant I had some serious soul searching to do. Where did I dare to go? How deep into who I am did I dare to open up? How much blood was I prepared to spill on the page? I knew that if I wanted to create something special, I was going to have to have the balls to go into those dark corners and light them up for all to see.
And after the first six chapters, I got distracted. That tends to happen to me a lot. I’m all over the place. Fast forward two and a half years. I began and completed, The Haunted Halls. I started Becoming (which currently rests at about 42K words). I wrote two novellas, Abram’s Bridge and Boom Town (and sold them both to Samhain Publishing). At this year’s World Horror Convention, I sat down with my editor and discussed “what’s next?” He likes both novellas, but he would really like to see a novel. I had just started a new novel in April, but I wanted to give my editor something special for that first novel. After I got home from the convention I decided to open up Window. After writing a couple of new chapters, I decided that I was going to finish this novel by the end of June. I was at just under 20K words. Could I get to 63-70K in a month? Sure, if I didn’t work full-time, go to school part-time, play in a band, and have three kiddos to take care of on a daily basis. Still, you’ve got to have goals.
Here we sit, June 29th. I didn’t make it to 70K or even 60K, but I did cross the 50K mark placing the approximate page count at a comfortable 200. That’s pretty good since I do the majority of my story writing between midnight and 5AM Friday and Saturday nights during my two night audit shifts. By Sunday morning, my novel mind is exhausted. It’s not easy to turn it on and push it full speed ahead for those two sold blocks of time. Still, I have a goal. The first two weeks of June I did manage to get in 500 words here, and 500 words there, but by the middle of the month, I just couldn’t make it happen. Too much life going on to get into the zone. It was frustrating at first, but I quickly acquiesced to the fact that hey, I have my weekends to hammer this out. Its summer and I need to devote that time to my kids, my wife, and to myself. We writers need time to rest that creative muscle (not that we aren’t constantly recording what’s going on around us and thinking, “hey, there’s an idea…”).
Sorry for all that rambling, and if you read this all the way through, thanks. Maybe this time next year, Window will be polished and prettied up and maybe it will even have a home. J I’m sure I’ll be working on the next one by then.
And don’t forget to pick up my debut novel, The Haunted Halls, in a few weeks!