I have been poking around writing, and thinking about writing, my book for nearly ten years now. It has been a long and mostly frustrating process where progress came only in fits and spurts. To be honest, I thought I was never going to finish it. But then along came my leukemia diagnosis and an extended break from work, which has provided me with plenty of time to write and which I have been trying to put to good use.
A little background on process: The way I write is to write the first draft longhand in pen. After I would have several chapters written, I would then hit the computer and type them up. Sometimes I would do edits and revisions right away on the computer, but mostly I would tinker with them whenever the mood hit me. In my view, by the time my cancer came along, the chapters that I had written, about 30,000 words worth, were relatively tight. I’m not saying the chapters were any good, I’m just saying that they were already pretty well edited and revised.
From November 30, 2009, when I was diagnosed with cancer, to about the end of April or mid-March 2010, after my bone marrow transplant and a bit of recovery time, I didn’t work on the book at all. But from March until now, I’ve been chugging along on it pretty good. I finished penning the first draft August 22, 2010, I finished typing it up August 25, and I am now more than halfway through with the first revision.
The first draft finished with twenty-seven chapters and about 45,000 words. So far during the first revision, I’m at twenty-nine chapters and over 55,000 words. As we all know, major publishers won’t even consider a novel unless it has a minimum of 60,000 words, so I still have some work to do. At the rate I am going, I think I should end up somewhere between 65 and 70,000 words. For a reference point on word counts, THE CATCHER IN THE RYE has just over 73,000 words.
Because I had been working on the first half of the book so long, I breezed through the first fifteen chapters during the first revision. But now, as I begin revising the newly written material, it is taking much more effort and concentration. Because I’m still recovering and still pretty weak, I tire out easily. But my goal is to finish with the first revision by the end of September and finish with the final revisions by the end of the second week of October. After the book is finished, I will begin the agent hunt and all the fun associated with that. We’ll see how it goes.
You can read an overview of the book and the first chapter
Stay tuned for more updates!