I just wrapped up the first draft of my latest work, The Autumn Lands, on Saturday night. And boy is it rough. Not rough trade rough. Nothing as sexy as that. Just… rough.
I can only blame myself. I started the story out with a general idea of where it was going, a theme for the anthology (“fall”), and a snippet of a story I wrote maybe twenty years ago that I decided would “work” for this project. But I didn’t sit down to do even a rudimentary outline. I’ve been trying to force myself to take this step lately, especially on projects that have a tight deadline like this one. But instead I decided to go 10% plot and 90% pants.
And now it’s time to face the music.
The story took on a life of its own as I wrote it, which as any writer will tell you can be both a fantastic and frustrating experience. Fantastic because you as the writer truly don’t know where it’s going to go – you get to experience it like the reader will, with the horizon wide open.
And frustrating because it often means that earlier parts of the story will need that much more revision to make them align with the new direction you end up taking.
And so it is here. I have eight days to rework the story from top to bottom, to present something decent to the fine folks at MCB by August 31st. It’s do-able. At 30k, this is a middling-length novella, my longest to date, but I have a clear idea of what needs to be done and where I want it to go.
I’m even looking forward to it. Mostly. Up until the point where I start pulling out my hair.
Damn. I should have done an outline.