Saturday, August 15, 2009

On Writing and Everything Else

For more than twenty years of my life I dreamed of writing books, but I always figured it would remain an unfulfilled dream. I love to procrastinate. Why do something difficult like write when I can watch a movie instead?

One day while living in Beijing, China I typed up a chapter for no particular reason. I don't know what got into me. However, once I wrote that first chapter I felt compelled to continue the story even if at a very slow pace. Over three years in Beijing I managed to write only a handful of chapters. I felt daunted by how much I knew lay ahead.

When I moved to Iceland I forged slowly ahead and by New Year's of 2009 I had fifteen chapters done. That might sound okay except that my outline showed something around a hundred chapters for the entire book. One of my New Year's resolutions was to complete fifteen more chapters in 2009. Imagine my shock when I banged out the entire rest of the book by March! I wrote approximately 90,000 words in three months, fifty thousand of them in the last month alone.

I felt mixed emotions upon completing the first draft. I am proud to have done something I never thought I would do, but the editing process is overwhelming. I know the story is good, but not good enough to publish yet. The major problem is that publishers and agents these days insist that the reading public no longer has the patience for books that take their time unfolding. People growing up on television, movies and the internet want instant gratification apparently. I, however, most love those older books that took their time with character and world development before taking off. I love how Tolkien took his sweet time getting to the action in his books. I wrote my book the same way, the way I wanted it to be, but I suspect I'll get no interest from agents. They'll say nothing happens for the first hundred pages. That's not true, of course, but I can see why they would say it.

I love the book. I read it to my wife and children and they enjoyed it. My youngest son, who is nine, even began writing his own stories. So, at least I have that satisfaction. However, I would truly love to see a novel of mine make it into print before I leave this earth. I may not submit this first one to agents, but I think I will try to write a second novel now and see if it will be more palatable to them. It may be difficult to find time to write now that I have moved to Baku, Azerbaijan. Work is much busier here than it was in Iceland. We'll see.

I hope to use this blog to put down my thoughts on writing, but also upon any other subject that strikes my fancy. In other words, this will be another excuse to procrastinate!

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