National Novel Writing Month End of Week 3

Thanks to everyone that has been supporting me as I continue towards the end of my novel, The Reformation. It’s also great that David and Lisa have been able to provide me with access to the website so I can bring you up to date with the process of doing NaNoWriMo, which has been wonderfully liberating and was exactly how I used to write when I was much younger. Write and be damned.

No, not really, I think when I was younger I did used to write first drafts right through and think, ‘Well, that’s it, done!’ when in reality I was only just starting. I then fell into a bit of hole, my first novel got a book contract which quickly collapsed, due to a bad agent and me being a naive client that was over ten years ago and the agent is gone and so is the naive client.

I then became insecure about my writing voice and I then went into editing hell, the kind of hell where you write one paragraph and then edit it, then one sentence and you go back and edit it and finally one word. This is all under the guise of, ‘if I do the editing now I will save myself a job later’. No you don’t, it’s just procrastination and I have tried to wrote a novel like this, and no surprises, I never finished it because I lost the passion and the rhythm of the piece.

So, what works for me, is to just write a first draft, straight through and past the 50,000 word mark, then put it aside and come back and then rewrite it (a number of times), adding anything that needs to be there for character and then plot. Then put it aside and come back as an editor, by then you have all the material and are making cuts that are necessary rather than making cuts out of some sort of false resolution.

This works for me, it may not work for everyone, there is that wonderful story about James Joyce when a friend came to visit and asked, ‘How many words have you written today, James?’ and Joyce replied, ‘Five’, and his friend went quiet and Joyce said, ‘But their great words’. That always makes me smile, and that’s what an editor does, and Joyce was a great writer and great editor, he knew words. It takes time to know words, and the best way to know them is to type as many as you can and hope that they make sense. I’m up to 40,255 words.

So, as always I am happy to share an unedited excerpt from a first draft novel and hope, just hope that you want to read more.

Excerpt from The Reformation:

I am pushed through opening at the side of the building into a room without windows, the wall are completely white with a glazed look and feel, as I take away my hand, another alarm sounds and a guard shouts at me not to touch another fucking thing or he’ll break each digit off. The guards yank the leash off and then leave the room, a door closes quickly behind them and I am alone, then there is the same feeling of pins and needles that I felt when I touched the wall of the tunnel but this time it’s creeping up my legs. I start to hop on the spot, touch the floor with my hand and pull it away, the floor is alive with something, I make a fist with my hand, unclenching it, clenching it, working the pain away, the pins and needles subside in my hands but are still building in my legs, there is nothing on the room to climb onto. I know the guard told me not to touch the walls but the pain is too much to bare, the pins and needles are in my groin, my balls are on fire, my dick is screaming, and I try to run to the door but my legs just give way, as if all the blood has been taken away, it feels like I have slept badly, cutting of the circulation. I am in the worst place, on the floor, all parts of my body are now in contact with the seeping feeling, all I can do is collapse into the arms of it as my entire body is full of pins and needles. It’s pathetic, it is a childish accident but the pain is everywhere, each pore is alive with continuous needles that jab at each inch of my skin, my clothes feel like they’re on fire with it, the heat is too much for me an I am clawing at my own shirt, scratching my own skin, buttons pop cleanly off as I rip each shred from my torso, work my shoes off kicking them clean across the room, they hit the wall but this time no alarm sounds, and even in my pain I am aware of everything, it’s as if whoever is doing this wants you to feel every second. No wonder my Dad never came here, no wonder he never had anything to do with my Grandfather, he must be a monster to build such things, to allow this to happen to his only grandson and then I wonder if I am, I wonder what other secrets my family have kept from me. I manage to pull away my trousers and my underwear, I am left naked in my socks, my skin is bright red and feels like it is peeling, my feet are the worst part and I struggle, pushing one foot against the other, trying to work the socks off, each time my foot slides down my leg it feels like my skin is coming away, I can’t sit up, I can’t bend down, all my flesh feels like it is sliding away. I can feel my left sock slide off, all my toes are still there, I can see them out of the corner of my eye, all I can see is an expanse of red prickly flesh, pockets of white that are giving way to the red, I start to scream, and yank my final sock off, such is the agony that I can feel myself retching and then I hear a voice in my head, clean and cool, it sits on my own voice and does not belong in any part of my body, it tells me not to vomit, it tells me that the procedure is nearly complete, that I will be cleansed. I scream louder, pressing my ear to the ground trying to block out the sound, I see small flesh like creatures race out of the cracks between the floor and the walls, they speed towards my clothes, devour them and then burn up into nothing, I try to push myself away as one zooms towards my feet. The sock, the fucking sock, is half on and half off my foot, I am going to lose my foot if that creature eats it and then burns, I will go up like a candle, will be dust in the air. I try to pull away but the creature is on my foot, I am too slow, I can feel my foot being sucked down and enveloped by a cold flesh, that sucks and sucks, a million little pin pricks that work over my flesh, I can feel it’s tongue between my toes and it feels like it is eating each one, slowly and then I can see it move away and I stare down and my foot is still there. Ice white. And then the red prickly heat invades it, drives out every inch of white as the creature combusts I am screaming for help and the voice in my head says calmly for me to stay calm, and I am calm, for me to sit up, and I sit up.

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