The rough draft of Project Lazarette is complete!
It happened suddenly, almost like an explorer finding a long-sought seacoast. I’d planned to write all weekend, knowing I was within three chapters of completion according to my outline. Then yesterday, finishing what was to be the first of those, I realized the second chapter was unnecessary. And then I surged through with adrenaline and hammered out the Very Last Chapter Of This Whole Damn Book.
By the numbers:
The rough draft as it stands is 122,713 words. That’s nearly (but not quite) double the length of The Collective. Project Lazarette is a novel in three parts. Part Two is the longest at 51,300 words spread across 11 chapters. Part One is a healthy 41,792 and 9 chapters and Part Three is 29,621 with 8 chapters. I’ve been writing the rough draft for 7.5 months, having started in July. My Scrivener file is 3.2 MBs (and that’s all text!).
Well I can’t yet rest on my laurels, that’s for sure. My next step is to turn over the rough draft to a small group of readers. I know it’s mess right now though, so I want to try and patch it up first. Hopefully I can do that before the end of the month. And then? I wait. It’s a long-ass book right now, so I expect my readers to take quite a few weeks to get through it. In the meantime: I can finally read fiction again! Let me if there’s anything you’ve read in the last few months that I absolutely must read.
And how about a sneak peek?
This will undoubtedly change, but this is the final sentence of the book as it stands now:
He stretched his arms to the sky, first the left and then the right, and he held his fists up to the steel grey that gathered above and dared God to try.
I just spent a great chunk of the weekend talking books with Robin Sloan, who just polished off the rough draft of his new novel.
Both of us have been writing more in the last few years, breaking out of the some-time-hobby practice we’d both engaged in since we were each kids. And there’s a significant change that’s come with that: These days, writing doesn’t seem like a mystical power, far away and distant. It seems accessible. It seems like if you practice it you will improve (I know…crazy, right?)
I think back to my early twenties, in which I thought I had so much to say but my hands were pinned by not knowing how to say it. Every month I had a new idea for a novel that would usually energize me for about one night (ten pages of a rough draft) and then go into the archive folder of my hard drive to collect computer bits of dust. These days, I still see the challenges and difficulties in a longer work but I know I can work through them. I’m no expert, but I can see that I’m learning. That I’m getting better. And that’s pretty exciting!
Project Lazarette is progressing, I promise. I’ve been necessarily derailed by some freelance work, but the available hours are starting to drift back toward Lazarette’s many-thousands of words. So far Parts One and Two are rough drafted. Upcoming benchmarks:
– This week I will complete a solid second draft of Part One.
– Then I’ll embark on the rough draft of Part Three (the final part).
– Hopefully in a short month or two, Parts Two and Three will be combined with the first and go out to a small group of readers. This will be the first time the book, as a whole, is conjoined.
What’s the big personal lesson I’ve learned? Just keep writing.
Last week I alluded to some big news coming up – and it’s here: This week will be my last week with Current TV.
I’ve been with Current since the month it launched, have had the opportunity to work on some of the most interesting projects in media in the last five years, and have learned and grown more from this one company than I could have from five different companies in quintuple the time. But for me, right now, it’s time to move on.
Why? What am I leaving to go do? Well, honestly – to write! I’ve got a lot of momentum going and I want to capitalize on that. For the next few months I’m going to be a full-time writer. (Crazy, right?) What will I attempt to accomplish in that time?
- Write the first rough draft of the newly-christened Project Lazarette (thank you Amanda for that awesome name and my new nautical project naming system). It’ll be my second full-length novel and I think it’s shaping up to be a really great one.
- Find myself a literary agent who’s willing to help find me some support/outlets for what I think is going to be a pretty prolific next few years.
- Find some sort of greater perch for The Collective – either as the self-published book it is now, or by finding it a home with a publisher.
- Exercise a lot and learn French.*
This Thursday will be my last day in the Current offices and then I’ll waste no time in getting started on Lazarette over the holiday weekend. I plan to give America 10,000 words for her birthday!
And for all you fans of collaborative participatory journalism, don’t worry, I’m not abandoning the good fight – I’m just taking a break!
Look forward to lots more blogging around here!
(* I have this persistent image of the page Nick Carraway finds in Gatsby’s book with his childhood daily schedule. The range of regimented activities he’d undertake for one half hour or quarter hour at a time. My temptation is to make such a schedule, though everyone tells me it’s folly. That said, I’m totally serious about the exercise and the French.)