Life can be a bit like a book at times. There are good parts and bad parts. Parts we look forward to and parts we wish would could skip over, but which actually hold important details. Sometimes it’s even what we don’t see and what the author doesn’t say that keeps us enthralled. The most satisfying conclusion to a story can be one that leaves you hanging…
In the act of writing my first book, while I try to finish the first draft, I find many things which make me stop and think, “Wow, I never thought I’d learn that lesson there”. Hours of writing and re-writing, endless editing, dropping scenes to the cutting room floor, picking them back up, and seemingly banging my head against a brick wall reading the same passage over and over again. Each task has taught me important lessons.
It has been a (mostly) joyous journey. Starting from playing through the impressively immersive adventure with my friends where we cooperatively created the world our characters inhabited. Most of the world was lovingly created by our dungeon master, but they ensured we each had a hand in shaping different, important, parts. I watched as the world in which our characters had grown up, and would hopefully live to a ripe old age, blossomed and grew. Every session we played I took pages and pages of notes of the adventure and the world itself. Each of these sets of pages eventually turned into a chapter of my character’s diary. My character’s name is Keiyu Roshido. He is a quiet monk with little knowledge of what makes something funny, well, funny. At least he was when I began my journey with him.
From those humble beginnings the words (his words? my words?) transformed and became something more. Something so wondrous and so much grander than I could have imagined at the time. I had originally intended to keep a diary of our adventure as a resource for those of us playing. Something to help us keep track of what had happened and relive some of the more epic moments. Mostly these were in the form of epic combat sequences where we flew very close to the sun, but there are witty one liners in there too, some so good they deserve to see the light of day more than once.
It was about here when things got out of control. I started poring over research into Japanese culture, mythology, weapons, and armour. The fantasy world we created is very clearly inspired by these elements rather than based upon it, but learning more about these things has helped me imbue the world with more realism.
Fast forward eighteen months and the story is over four hundred pages long – even though I’m not quite finished the first draft yet! I’ve purchased Scrivener, a wonderful writing tool which has helped me immensely. It has especially helped me keep track of all the little details to maintain continuity throughout the book. (I am not sponsored by Scrivener. But I highly recommend looking into it if you’re into writing novels, plays, or movie scripts.)
Now I’m at the point I can see the finish line of phase one: completing the first draft. After I’ve finished this I can pass it on to some test readers. I can dive head-first into editing. I can look into having cover art made for when it’s ready to publish. Finishing a book is still one of those things I think, “I could never write and publish a book could I?” But I am well on the way and I will do it.
If I hadn’t been writing this story in chunks I would have put it in the too hard basket. Having it already split into sections which neatly fit into chapters broke down that mental obstacle for me. Life can be a bit life this sometimes. We look at the whole, where we want to be in three months, next year, five years, ten years, and it seems daunting.
Decide what you want to do: the big things. Have a think about how long these projects might take. Be as honest as you can be with yourself. Decide on milestones that sit along the way: the medium-sized things. Figure out the steps you can take each day to progress: the little things.
Some days we won’t feel like we’re going anywhere. Some days rest is the right choice, and is an integral part of progress. What are some of the steps you’ve taken today? Even if you can’t see them yourself, I know there there.
Keep on keeping being awesome my friends.