I added the words up for this year and I’m sitting at just over 70k… not bad for two months and around 25 days of it without composition of any significance. The goal right now is somehow, between my school duties and masters work etc., to hammer out another 100k by the end of May. That, and complete my current editing goals…
…which have, well, expanded. After completing Immortal Coil last month, I decided now was as good a time as any to continue on — to give the million and so words cranked out in my ‘primary word’ a surface edit. This required re-entering creative ground I was not quite comfortable with, for a variety of reasons.. “but,” I told myself, “I might as well; if nothing else, those old books certainly helped you shave down the rough edges of style and craft…”
I wrote Sacred Cycles, the first volume of my incomplete five-book ‘meta-epic’, in 2007. The 225k text took around seven months, stretched out over 11 months (i was married that year, which dominated most of the summer ). The book was complex and convoluted, dense and demanding, and even flush in the creative buzz I knew it might be a hard sell in the foundering, fluctuating book market of that period (things haven’t gotten much better). I edited the book periodically through 2008 and then basically put it away in 2009 under the advice of a college professor, moving on to other works. I gave it a once-over in 2010 before finallizing a print job… (printing that amount of words is usually $20, a sizable investment to a brokeass college student).. and let it sit for the next year, as I completed other projects, some in the same world, others far different.
There is always this uncomfortable anticipation/dread that comes with opening an old book, one labored so fiercly on so many years past, edged with the sinking swirling feeling of “gawd, what was I thinking?” I felt this quite keenly in 2010 / 2011, while reconstructing my very first novel from its bloated 2001 completion to a leaner, read-able draft. Venturing into Sacred Cycles, volume ten of my ‘collected works’ library, contained very much the same tension.
But this time around… it’s different. Complicated. For one, the book mostly works now. This is a surprise; I labored long and hard on this sucker and sometimes despaired of ever feeling satisfied over it. I keenly recall the massive rewrites, the surprised little pleasures, the surface skim of printed words and subsequent bewildering twine of pride and frustration.
But now… My initial reaction through the first few chapters was puzzlement at the general quality. I’d half-assumed it would read stilted and unsatisfactory; for years I’ve had the impression that I had edited too much, and in that process pulverized the potential. There was also a wierd sense of dislocation. The book felt dense, almost too dense. So many names and worldbuilding to occasionally warp the pacing. This ambiguous feeling was exaggerated, perhaps, by having Immortal Coil as an immediate contrast.
In hindsight–approx. 1/3rd through SC–I’m really, really glad I wrote IC as a ‘side novel’ and potential introductory text to the overall arc. IC is a better, friendlier novel. The characters resonate stronger, and there’s far fewer of them. The world contains depth but manages to navigate the problematic density that affects SC. The “dimestore misanthropy” that I infused into SC is toned down or developed in a more sophisticated manner.
And yet… there is a quality to SC that I’m enjoying. Quite a bit of the prose has been honed through the dozen or so edits to a sharpness and surety that makes reading it enjoyable (and that’s the goal, frankly). I recall from previous edits that the book started really clicking around chapter 6; so it is the same now–other than a handful of faint edits, chapter 6 passed so smooth I had to double-check to make sure I wasn’t just lulled by the storytelling.
A good feeling, all in all. It’s been more than five years, and all that struggle did pay off, in the end. There’s still work to do on SC (not to mention the 700,000 words still to be written in this series) but for now, I’m happy cycling.
Current composition work is on Until the End of the World. I’ve composed roughly 8k in the past week, and considering it’s been almost two years from when I ceased working on the draft… it’s an interesting feeling, all told. I managed to type out rough sketchs of the second ‘cult criticism’ sections. Given that it’s been four years from when I did the initial research, I’ve had to visit RickRoss and other associated forums to remember some of the details, even if the storytelling structure remains concrete.
Oh, but this is a dark book… I’m only working on it during my breaks at school. Don’t want that creative energy in the household, frankly. After this (probably completed by the end of March?) I’m going to whip out Blurb and then return to speculative fiction for the rest of the year–the Lash, The Subtle Wound, and The Netherworld Throne. all of which will carry into 2013…
..happy cycling. Sometimes I wonder why I haven’t gone mad.