The Long Road to Here

If you’ve seen my doing panels at cons or followed me closely enough on Twitter, you might have heard me mention that I am working on a novel. The setting for this book is something I started developing back in 2010 with the first words that went into the novel being written in 2011. Originally, this was meant to be a side project to a different project so I could better understand the world. I had already written one story in the setting, based on characters for a book I intended to write, but I wrote a second story with new characters as a way to get a better understanding of how the setting worked. Instead, this story has turned into both the largest project I have completed to date and the most delayed project I have undertaken.

The original draft for the book, Scars of the Golden Dancer, was completed back in 2015. At the time, I felt I was closing in on being done with the book, but when I got into first round edits, I got a bit lost. There were gaps in the thinking of the characters and flaws in the way the plot worked. My critical mistake I feel with this project is I never had an outline for it. Part of that is because this started as a short story, and I originally completed it as a short story, and I submitted it for publication, where it was thankfully rejected. Even before I got the rejection, I knew there was more to the story, so it became two short stories, that I then decided would work as a novella of 40,000 words. During the course of writing this, it grew into a novel length work. The entire back half of the book was written during a 30-day challenge where I wrote 30,000 words.

This haphazard first draft of course left a lot of work to be done during the editing as I’ve had to smooth things out. I have grossly underestimated at points how far along I am to being done. Things have also seriously changed from the draft I completed in 2015. What was eighteen chapters became sixteen chapters. The first complete draft was about 68,000 words. Currently the project is 88,000 words, after gaining 20,000 words during the editing process. The finished product might break 90,000.

This isn’t the only thing I’ve done in that time period either. The anthology I did with Slip-Wolf, Dissident Signals, was announced, edited, and published while I have been working on this book. I attended RAWR. I have written two dozen short stories while this project has sat and languished, ignored for months, sometimes even a year at a time. I have even written two additional stories in the setting. Having put it off for so long, you would think I did not plan to complete it, but I’m committed to seeing this done and published. It is time to finally finish this, and to this end I am dedicating the next four months to finally completing it. I will be undertaking no new projects until this is done, although I do have some editing to do for stories that will be coming out this year.

I do finally feel though that what is left to do is also an increasingly smaller amount of work. Major structural edits were completed last fall. While additional structural work may and likely will be required by an editor, I feel things now are close to where they will be for the final book. I’m at least now comfortable with what I have on the page. A friend has been beta reading the chapters as I have finished edits on them, and currently I am looking to pass them chapter ten in the next few days.

I’ve also turned my attention to book two. While I haven’t started on that yet, there does exist an exploratory scene I’ve written down that could become a critical moment in the book. I will not be repeating the pantsing process I undertook for Scars of the Golden Dancer. This time there will be a full outline before I begin writing large chunks of the book. I’m not sure on the plot of the second book yet, but I have left questions and connect points to build upon in the first. I know who the major characters are, but I don’t know yet what their end goals are.

I’m not sure who yet I can get to publish this, but I’m optimistic that Scars of the Golden Dancer will see the light of day as a printed book sometime in 2020. First though I have more work to do before I can make that a reality.