Erik’s Tale is now 54,000 words, so a very healthy category length. I have two more chapters and an epilogue to write, and then it’s done.
Edits are going well on Through the Fire. I’m reading through the whole thing to catch inconsistencies and make a few changes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about … well, a lot of things, but one of them is where I’m at in my apprenticeship, so to speak. In reading things from unpublished or self-published friends and acquaintances of mine, I find that for the most part I’m a more skilled writer. Sometimes by a lot. What I see in their work is where I was at before, even as recently as a year ago. I’ve improved a great deal in the last two years and I’m ready for the next phase. I think for the most part, my apprenticeship is over. Or at least the junior apprenticeship, where you learn the basics of writing, figure out how to write a story, and find your style/voice. I didn’t get here by wishing or wanting to be a writer, I made it this far through hard work. I’m working on my tenth novel. Yes, TENTH. It boggles my mind when people finally finish a first draft of a novel and then keep flogging that novel for years and years without writing another one. Don’t they have any other ideas? Don’t they know that their first novel probably sucks? Probably A LOT? Editing it five hundred times won’t teach you as much as writing another novel or two (or nine *cough*).
I learned far more by writing new novels than I did re-writing one of my chapters 12 times (in my defense I worked on that book for 11 years, so it was one re-write per year. Wait, that’s a terrible defense. Why did it take me so long?) I now have a large collection of what most writers call trunk novels, the books that get put away somewhere dark. They’re practice. Apprentice novels, if you will.
My apprentice novels:
Rising Storm (2006-2007)
Shattered (NaNoWriMo 2007)
Of Shadow and Flame (NaNoWriMo 2008)
Flight (NaNoWriMo 2009)
Flight feels like my last apprentice novel. It didn’t teach me about writing so much as it taught me about passion — or the lack there of. I didn’t love that book. I tried to write an average guy type main character to challenge myself and it just didn’t work. I had neat ideas. I have a great villain, which I might salvage for something else. I worked hard, I enjoyed parts of it, I won NaNo, but looking back that book was SO DULL. Not like Of Shadow and Flame where I had loads of fun with Tenai burning things. I like demons. They’re fun. So in 2010 I wrote Through the Fire and I had a much better time. Then there was Air Pirates, which I had so much fun with that some NaNo people said they were jealous. Every day that novel was fun to write.
And now I’m getting close to the end of Erik’s Tale. Oh, that book. I love it so much sometimes it’s embarrassing. If I hadn’t gained the confidence and learned the lessons from writing all the books that came before it, I don’t think I would have had the courage to try writing Erik’s Tale. I know now that the best thing to do is follow my passion and not let fear stop me.
Maybe that, more than the actual writing skill, is why I think I’ve reached the next level.