As some of you may be aware of, I’ve spent the past seven or so years working on a book, hence my absence for the past couple weeks. The Night’s been the biggest pain in my ass since I could drive a car and it’s growing ever closer to the end, which has made me even more of a nervous wreck than I usually am. Now that I’m about to reach the end of the story, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on my own experience through the creative writing process.
I had the idea for what would become The Night when I was about 16 years old. Way back then, it was a one-off story that didn’t even have the same title. I’ve rewritten plot lines and characters more times than I can count. The process is ever changing, and likely the time that I finish this post, I’ll have already developed some unnecessary, or necessary, change to something or other. Us writers are a unique, never satisfied breed that lingers just on the cusp of insanity.
In the earlier years, I was so distracted and full of ideas that I couldn’t ever focus on any individual project. I still can’t quite pull it together, but I possess enough of the ability to pull it together a portion of the time. The first four years or so left me the bare bones of an idea that was less than fifty pages and with no connection to any larger plot. I consider the rough draft to be the weakest writing I’ve ever had but finishing it was a great enough accomplishment.
The editing was pretty easy because I had some access to editing software and the bulk of the edit was going to be adjustments to the story and characters, which was a certain version of hell. Starting a project at 16 and finishing it at 22 left plenty of time for the ideas of a teenager to develop, so I had a lot of work ahead of me for after the edits and proofreading.
Around the start of the final draft, I learned I had to use outlines more. I have to write an outline for each individual chapter, deciding what the goal from a narrative standpoint must be, and how the characters can help to deliver to this goal. Creating characters is the fun part of writing, but it also makes me want to die, especially when I’ve changed the core fundamentals of the characters multiple times over the years. I find solace in the idea knowing that I’ve broken down these characters to a point that I don’t feel that need to make drastic changes as often.
My whole process doesn’t come without its flaws. I sleep five hours a night. I’ve made so many character profiles, I can’t keep them straight. The chapter is usually only vaguely similar to my proposed outline, which makes me anxious all the time. I still have only a vague idea as to when it will actually be done, it continues to grow larger as time goes on, which I like because I feel that the narrative is improving, but I also just kind of want it to be done so I can start to work on something new.
So, that’s where I’m at with The Night, coming at some point to an Amazon near you. Expect heartbreak, mediocre writing, a jumbled plot, and the ravings of a sleep-deprived 23-year-old. I look forward to it, for the sole fact that I can say that I’ve finished a book and the idea that I no longer have an unfinished project that is slowly pushing me closer to the brink of insanity.