Two weeks ago, I finally hit the midpoint in Highness’s second draft. There are things I want to adjust in the first half, but instead of putzing with it forever, I’ve sent it to my dear CPs for some much needed macro-level feedback. Now that it’s out of my hands for a good month, I wanted to reflect on my current thoughts and feelings before the feedback begins trickling in.
First, the facts. It’s hard to believe, but a year has passed since I last shared the story. I bounced scenes off my CPs occasionally, and my darling/brutally honest fiancee always had a look at a chapter’s first attempt, but other than that, the story has remained locked away on my laptop. Currently, the book clocks in at 77k (which will be whittled down to 60k when it’s all said and done). I’ve revised the first quarter (including overhauling the first plot point and completely changing the story’s trajectory) and drafted new scenes up to the midpoint. 1.5 notebooks are filled with scribbled outlines and charts, and I’ve put another 80k words of work into the story. While it’s crazy to think I’m only halfway through the book, it’s still been a productive year.
Aside from making progress in Highness, I’m continuing to learn a ton about writing and what works for me. I feel like I finally have a process for how I draft scenes. Handwritten micro-outlines and dialogue exercises are my methods of choice (and appeal to my tactile side) before I take to Scrivener. I’ve learned that I struggle to immediately jump from one scene into the next. I have to sleep on it, let it marinate. The bulk of my drafting is done on the weekends, then I spend the post-workday, post-practice weeknights layering in emotional beats and detail. To think I’ve got another 60k of work ahead of me is both daunting and exciting. Every pass and edit brings out more of the story’s heart, sheds another layer and reveals some unexpected, deeper truth. Highness still has a ways to go, but it’s closer now than it was last September, and I’m pumped for what’s ahead.
Since I’m forcing myself not to work on the book, I’m being intentional about filling my creative well. I’m halfway through Jay Kristoff’s Darkdawn and am chipping away at Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens. Finally started watching Breaking Bad (only a decade late), and that’s been a total treat. I’m continuing to steep myself in craft books and podcasts, and spending as much time as possible outside biking and rowing before the throes of winter are upon us. Have some traveling out east to do over the next month as well. In other words, plenty of things to both keep me distracted while I wait for feedback and reset my lens before I tackle the book’s third quarter.
Perhaps the biggest lesson this break has taught me is just how much I genuinely enjoy writing. I love the challenge of puzzling through arcs and plot threads, and the relentless quest toward making the story as strong as I can. It engages a part of my brain that is separate from my career. Having such an immersive project that I gleefully give entire days to is a blessing. People talk about passion all the time, but how often do people find that healthy obsession and pour in. Perhaps the real question is how often do people commit themselves to anything, really.
The book is sure to change over the next year. I’ll draft the back half, and while I know where it’s headed, how my characters arrive there remains a mystery to be solved. Part me of is eager to finish, part of me hopes it never ends. This whole writing thing – this labor and passion and blessing – is just too damn fun.