I’m now setting it aside for a final readthrough.
That’s a normal part of the process. I like to return to it with fresh eyes.
I’d rather not try to do that readthrough while I’m abroad, so it’ll probably have to wait until I’m back in the US. That being said, I said that about my pen name change. So, maybe I’ll do it sooner? (It looks like I might be returning in January, but I really don’t know yet.)
Right now, I’m finding myself thinking about how long of a project this has been. IBwaD is my longest book to date, but it was plotted that way. I knew it’d be long when I started it. But I didn’t know it’d take me seven years. This was my first NaNoWriMo project in November of 2013.
I know why it took so long. This project has also suffered through the most rewrites. And the most drastic changes in my writing style. And the biggest volume of old writing I had to clean up (which was problematic for this project, even more so than Wing). It also got sent to the back burner frequently in favor of other works. And I’ve learned A LOT more about the inclusion of LGBT characters since my initial draft. These things weren’t intentional, but that’s what happened.
This is not my first book. It’s on track to be my fourth published book. If you count my unpublished books, then this is the sixth book I’ve written. The fact that I’ve finished another book actually feels a bit routine now. But, what doesn’t feel routine is that this is IBwaD. A project that’s been begging for completion for seven years now.
I can always look back on my work and see what was going on in my life at the time. To an outsider, a lot of that probably feels a bit random. For example, the way I describe a jet crossing the sky in Victim tells me that I watched FLCL with a friend that semester. The lion on the train reminds me that I was in a course studying Nietzsche. And the way Rina sits follows the pattern of my friend Madison. Reading Victim inevitably reminds me of these examples and a multitude of others that I haven’t listed out. But what I’m describing all comes from roughly one year in my own life. With IBwaD, what I see comes from about seven years.
That’s a big difference. Certain sections of the work favor particular times during those years (probably when I worked on the initial writing for that section the most). For example, the physical pain that Goren feels in phase one is based off of my real world experience of chronic pain. I no longer struggle with pain because of surgery I finally got access to in July of last year. But those pain reminders are in the same book as a line of dialogue that reminds me of my current roommate’s abusive ex. And, weirdly enough, Marvel’s Dr. Strange movie. Per IMDB, that movie came out in 2016. My pain was chronic from 2014 to 2019. And I didn’t even meet that roommate until July of 2020.
But this project was started in 2013. That was the first time I lived in a building with radiators. This is reflected once or twice in the book based off of random observations I remember having about them. For example, I remember being surprised by the smell that would accumulate when people tried to dry their clothes on the radiators on a humid day. That’s a very distinct smell, and it turned out to be perfect for describing the scent of a particular scene. Here’s another example: 2013 is when I finally asked my dad what a mimeograph is. One actually appears in chapter 17. Also, the woman in white is a not-so-subtle homage to my favorite Wilkie Collins book. I first read it in 2013.
All these reminders give me an oddly distorted time-view (for lack of a better wording). I’m more accustomed to seeing about a year in my life when I finish writing a book. Not seven.
But I’m glad it’s done. Finally finishing this old a project gives me a wonderful sense of completion. It’s also my first complete horror novel. What I’ve written of horror in the past was mostly short stories. I had the occasional longer draft, but this is the first time that I’ve successfully expanded one into a novel.
It’s now set aside for the final readthrough. I’ve already texted my betas.
And I get to take a break. TMotS will move up to become my primary project. I haven’t decided the new secondary project yet. But I have plenty of ideas and little drafts to choose from. Maybe a compilation of short stories? I could always set up a framing device. But first I’d have to . . .
I’m off to enjoy my break. The beach is calling.
(Here’s an odd side note: The Woman in White was Wilkie Collins’ fifth published book. It Began with a Dream will be my fourth. If I count Y (since it was initially published, but later unpublished), then they actually line up: my fifth book includes a homage to his fifth book. That wasn’t planned.)
(Another side note: time-view feels logical to my brain. I’m to the point that I joke about Shakespearing words whenever I run spellcheck on a document. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. I see it as an ability to be more versatile in my use of language 🙂 )