I’ve sort of just hit a milestone with Extinction. As of now, it’s the longest book I’ve ever written.
It’s sort of weird how I wrote this one. I got the first 60,000 words down, and didn’t know how to continue it. I edited those 60,000 words and kept adding until it reached 80,000. That’s where I am now, and imagine there will be another five thousand words before it ends.
It still needs a lot of work. I’ll admit, I’ve been pretty tired lately and it’s hard to work in that state. I’ve been pushing myself to work fast despite working full-time and feel like all that is starting to catch up with me. I wake up every morning dead tired, but the positive thing is, I’ll start next week being able to concentrate on this full-time.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Pretty much since high school, my aspiration has always been to be a full-time writer. Back then, you really don’t understand how hard it is to do that, how much work, talent, and luck just to get to that state. I just sort of assumed it would happen for me, somewhat foolishly. Very few authors make a full-time living from writing. I sort of always naively thought that by the time I graduated college, I’d have two to three books under my belt, books so brilliant that no agent could ever refuse them.
Yeah, I was a big time dreamer. I didn’t really know how the world worked. Trust me, it’s not like that.
Nothing ever just happens. I had so much more time in college to write than I do now, and yet, I write far more in a week, sometimes even in a day, than I ever did in college. My work ethic just did a 180. For my whole life, I struggled with chronic laziness. It still gets me. Even now, as I write this, there’s a stack of dirty dishes piled in the sink that’s been there for a week, and at least ten empty coffee mugs on my desk.
I think writing is so hard to begin with because it does not pay off immediately. You have your aspiration, and you know what’s good, but somehow, you can’t just seem to make it work. I tried writing so much, and I hated the feeling of not knowing where to go next, or looking at a line and knowing it sucked, or analyzing a scene and feeling like it was diverting from the storyline. I’d have these aspirations, but when the story came out, it was cliche, and even laughable.
Every writer, every artist, has to go through that phase. I’m not saying I’m through it. I still suck in a lot of ways. I have a lot of room for improvement. But I have the basics down, at least, and sometimes – the inspiration does come through.
I also stopped trying to put pressure on myself to have everything perfect. I allowed myself to have fun, and to even suck. I started to see writing as practice and not merely an act of inspiration. It was in this mindset that I wrote Apocalypse.
The first book is always the hardest one. Every writer, or anyone setting out to become their best at anything, has to go through the pain period. The most important thing you can do as a beginning writer is to write every day and to have the humility to know that you’re going to suck for a while. It might take years to reach a point where you’re good (and even then, you have to accept that a lot of people will still think you suck).
The point is to always be perfecting your craft, finding your voice, haggling over the right word. It’s a balance, though; you don’t want to overinvest your time and lose sight of the big idea.
Okay, I should quit pretending to know what I’m talking about. The final words of Extinction should be written soon. I’ll write the ending and see how I feel about it. Then it’s editing. Lots and lots of editing. I hope to have the final product out in early April, and with me going to full-time, I’m planning on releasing books much more quickly.
It will be my full-time job, after all.