Well, I’m finally back at work on A**hole Island. It’s one of two novels I drafted between the fall of 2016 and the summer of 2018, at which point I toppled over from exhaustion. Working a day job, doing editing on the side, parenting, trying to sell the odd short story, plus writing at that pace is not sustainable all at once, especially since A**hole Island is the shorter of the two novels. (But also the one that feels most complete.)
I started working again on it today, taking some advice from a friend (thanks, Jeremy!) and hacking away at the beginning and end alike. It was 100,000 words, but after my work today, it’s down to about 80,000 words, with a revised opening full of enigmas and mysteries.
I expect it’ll probably creep its way back to around 95,000–100,000 words in the end, since the ending needs some expanding, with things originally only handwaved and hinted at being made explicit. That said, I I am actually aiming for about 90,000 words, because I’ll be trimming as I go.
A**hole Island is actually an expansion of a novella I wrote back in 2014, which I decided would work well as a novel. To my shock, I think it might actually be YA, or at least something that could be marketed as such. I never set out to write in that genre, but I am not horrified by it, either, at this point. That said, I originally conceived it as an straight SF novel that happened to feature teen characters, and it might sell as such, too. Either way, I’ll be happy.
The net result of today’s work is about 5,000 words, which is less than I used to achieved in a normal writing day, but then normal writing days didn’t start with washing a child who’d peed himself and then fighting to get him to let me put skin lotion on him because he hates the stuff, so… I’m calling it a win. I need four more days like that to finish revising the opening, and to hammer the ending home. In the meantime, if I can revise a few sections on each of my slow work days—the two days a week that I’m not at school all day—I should be able to get this thing done within a couple of months, and start the process of trying to find an agent and sell it.
(While, of course, returning to work on the other, longer project, Zyme!, which needs one major storyline rejiggered, and which I need to decide whether I’m going to try cut up into pieces, or to write all the way through and sell as a big fat novel on its own. I waver in which idea seems better, though given the flavor and style—it’s got way more early Georgian English in it than your average SF book—the big fat book approach might be the wiser, I dunno.)
Anyway, it feels like forward motion again on these projects, which is positive. Not that I didn’t get anything done during my break from them—editing, translation, and the everpresent attempt to be a decent parent and spouse, as well as some recharging of batteries—but I’m happy to have these juggernauts back in motion, however creaking it might be.
Oh, and for those who recognize the header image: yes, A**hole Island is (in part) a reference to that island, but not in the context most people might imagine. Please don’t jump to any conclusions, okay?