Monday, January 14, 2013

Eva for the Win

I have just finished a sprint at the end of the novel-writing and -editing marathon, but by the grace of some serious chair-butt and a week off work, I have submitted Eva to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest! Thanks to my husband, it even has a good title: Tiny Glitches.

Pause for celebration. Go on, get out of your chair and dance with me!

In the last week, I cut over 11,000 words from my novel, rewrote the final two chapters and the first chapter, added in and refined the magic throughout the entire novel, and polished the manuscript, reading and editing the entire novel at least three times through, and some chapters at least five times.

I've never done such an intensive edit on such a short schedule, and I honestly don't know how professional, full-time authors do it. I'm so close to my book at this point I feel like the little kid with her nose pressed against the TV: The story has become a fuzzy blur of moving colors that makes no sense. The magic of the story is gone. I've lost all perspective on pacing (I'm trusting my outline and past me who said it was good), and while I know I built in surprises, I don't see them anymore. I know this book forward, backward, in piecemeal and in its dozens of iterations.

I'm just this side of sick of my novel, and I am measurably relieved that I don't have to read through it again today. Or tomorrow. In fact, Tiny Glitches is doing all the work on its own for the next month, hopefully wooing the judges with its irresistible pitch. On February 13, I will learn if my pitch makes it past the first round of cuts. If it does, more celebration. If not, I'll be turning my attention toward agents.

And now, the stats. Since September 15, I have spent an additional 47 days and 101 hours working on Tiny Glitches. The majority of it has been editing (I did not divide out my rewrite hours as "writing," because even I'm not that detailed in my tracking), but I also had to re-outline a chunk of the middle of the novel when I cut a 6,000-word scene.
Story and Character Building
Days: 18 Time: 22.75 hours

Days: 34 Time: 37.5 hours

Days: 72 Time: 127 hours

Days: 95 Time: 175.25 hours

Total to Date
Days: 219 Time: 362.5 hours
Percentage of Time Spent on Tiny Glitches That Didn't Involve Writing: 66%

My obsessive tracking has illuminate a few things.
  1. I spend a LOT of time editing.
  2. I need to speed up the process somewhere along the way if I'm ever going to write more than one novel a year! (I just learned that James Patterson has written five #1 New York Times best sellers every year since 2005. I feel like such a slacker!)
  3. Writing the novel isn't even half the process.
I have two new projects, both nonfiction, that are eager to be written, and then I get to start another novel. Right now, the straightforwardness of nonfiction sounds absurdly appealing. (Okay, I think that's just an illusion, but leave me my hope that nonfiction will somehow be easier or quicker.)

But right now, I need some celebratory banana bread! 


Cody said...

Quite an ordeal getting a good story produced by a deadline. Nice job and good luck!

Rebecca Chastain said...

Thank you! I got a taste of what it is like as a published author. It's hard! Rewarding, but hard!