Now I am a respectable way into my second draft I am ready to report back. The feeling of the writing is very different, as I expected it would be. The white-heat of putting down the first draft (about five months for me, which is the quickest I’ve ever done it – perhaps because this bout of frenzied writing followed two months of detailed planning?) is as different from this slow unravelling, unpicking, putting back together again as it can be.
It is harder to keep track of the progress I am making though. I posted my word-counts every few days on Facebook while I was doing my first draft. Got slightly told off by one friend, who rightly pointed out that it is quality and not quantity that count. But the telling off missed the point a little bit too. I was never trying to write the biggest novel there was. Just get my first draft down, create that initial block of pages so I could play around with it later. Which is what I’m doing now. First drafts are harder for me and making myself notice the growing word count was motivating.
But now I’m editing I could be deleting and rewriting and reordering and end up with less at the end of a good few days work rather than more. The word count has crept up by 3000 since I started this second draft, but I think I might have written 8000 new words. I’ve sorted out the chapter breaks, and smoothed out some bumps in the time-line. Continuity errors abound. I’m a taker-outer and not a putter-inner, so my second draft will shrink before I’m done, I am sure.
Instead of posting word counts, I’ve got a list of chapters (19) stuck up over my desk. Once I’ve edited a chapter, I get to tick it off the list. I’ve edited five chapters now. Not bad going. I’m on schedule and under budget. I did this in the final stages of Cold Light – not so much with chapters, but with jobs that needed doing. Made a list of jobs, scheduled them into my diary, ticked them off when they were done. Knowing what job I need to do when I sit down at the computer every morning helped last time, and it is helping this time too.
This all sounds like a very inartistic and unromantic way of writing a book. I am pulling back the curtain and revealing the Wizard of Oz, who is eating satsumas, writing in bed-socks, checking facts on google and inching slowly, slowly onwards between the hours of nine and one every morning.