I just finished a novel. My eighth.
I call it Spoon-Fed Camel. My progress bar on the right of this blog doesn’t let me update the wordcount anymore, but it is complete at 93,836 words.
It contains no camels, no spoons, and very little food.
A short pitch: When virtual reality magic gets out of control, it sucks two patrons into its chaotic world, forcing them to face and fix parts of it they had never imagined possible.
It’s an adventure story, I think, at its heart. (I just listened to a bunch of Writing Excuses podcasts that seemed to describe my book pretty well, so I’m calling it adventure.) Even though the world sucks them in at first, it’s because they chose to be there and chose to have that adventure. But I also tried (and failed) to put several more layers into the story. The successful parts were the ones I didn’t expect.
This was a fun story to write. I always enjoy creating a lot of strange creatures for my characters to meet, and a lot of different environments— think of Star Wars or Star Trek— but this time I took it to a new level. The virtual reality could become anything it wanted. I ended up with some pretty interesting stuff to write. Giant birds, giant snakes, giant monsters made of rock. Swarms of bugs, swarms of gophers, swarms of pieces of my protagonist. Rabid zebras, rabid buffalo, rabid cat people.
If it helps, I can list more things in threes.
I don’t think the plot was much. I spent most of the book figuring out who the antagonist was, and the moment I figured it out, I took a side quest that almost made me forget it again. The characters were okay, I guess. I focused on setting most with this one— creating it, and making sure all the choreography and details were true to that.
As fun as it was, this was a hard book to write. I don’t exactly have the time to write, so I faced more opposition than I ever had in terms of scheduling. It took me a long time to write and I came down sick twice in the middle of it. It was also just plain hard. I struggled through most of it. There were a couple places I could really get going, but mostly I was just wading through a bog to get where I wanted to be. Maybe that’s my fault for not making it more interesting, or more character driven. But in anything, you’re going to have to exposit to get from A to B.
It was also the most real I’ve ever been in a novel. Writing this, I had to face a lot of things I didn’t like— with all the hard work to just get through one scene, or lack of motivation at the end of a day, I didn’t know whether writing was actually the dream I wanted to pursue. I didn’t know a lot of things. Those thoughts got pretty bad near the end of the novel. Funnily enough, I hit my low point right around the novel’s low point, and wrote one around the other. By the end of the book, the main character was more like me than I had ever expected.
I don’t know how well it worked as a whole. I think there were things I could have fixed even without taking a pause between finishing and editing. I probably could have fixed it while still writing that scene. But I don’t really care. I’ve been knee-deep in this book for so long it felt like it was time to finish it.
Which means, I don’t really feel like it’s ended. It’s not that it feels surreal, it just doesn’t feel like I usually feel. I don’t know how I usually feel. That’s kind of bugging me right now.
But hey. Novel number eight, under my belt. Time to take a short break, then work on editing novel number seven, or maybe novel number six. Let’s have fun with this.
One last thing. I started this novel while I was in the middle of another one, muddling along in another knee-deep mess. With that one, I had no idea what the plot was or the main conflict, so I consider this a considerable triumph over that. That was more of a science-fiction thing, with elements of Firefly and The Martian and X-Men for some reason, which I decided I wasn’t ready to write. I didn’t know how to figure out what that thing was about. So I started on this one, a novel that began when I looked at a thermos and said, “Yeah, but… magic.”
I think that’s important. Once in a while, if you’re stuck neck-deep in a project, you’ve got to take a step back. If it isn’t working, it isn’t working. You can put in the time to make it work, or you can start on something else. But there’s the catch: you can’t just decide it isn’t working every time it gets hard. I got pretty weighed down by this novel, but I made it through with the help of good friends and a lot of pushing through blocks. A series of starts of books where you can’t get past the first half— that’s the kind of experience that can kill your dream. But I promise, if you push through, you’ll get to the end.
I’m sorry for not blogging more, I think. But I also just don’t have time. Writing this book and keeping up school were honestly the only two things I could do consistently. Thanks for reading this far, and I wish you luck in your own writing endeavors!