Day 70 of writing my novel in public
I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.
If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.
If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.
Day 70 — Ending
I can’t believe that this day is here, but today I finish my first draft of my novel. After seventy days of writing, I have come to the end of the initial discovery draft. It has been a great journey, and the commitment to completing it in public has made that easier.
In the first part of the process, the planning, I was explaining my method and potentially giving benefit to anyone reading it. But once I started drafting, most of the posts have been the outcome of my writing that day. Since then, I think the benefits have probably been mainly mine.
- The accountability of wanting to have something to post each day.
- By sharing my writing each day, I have been letting go of it. Whether I judge it to be bad or good is not a reflection of me, just of the words. I have created a psychic distance between me and my creation.
- Forcing me to journal and reflect on the process means that on bad days, I can look back at when things were going well.
It has given me the impetus I needed to get back into writing again. I had a novel that was going well when the pandemic hit. I stopped writing. Now I feel it might be the right time to revisit that, see where I am up to, and continue on.
With the end of the first draft, I am going to put it away for a while, again to create some distance from it. I hope to come to revise with fresh eyes. This means that I have the space to look at the other project.
Thinking about the time spent, seventy days is a good span, but is still only a fifth of a year. I find it encouraging that I could complete five such first drafts in a year if I chose to. Even though this was only a middle grade novel with a shorter word count, I feel I could have written more each day and could aim for a full length young adult or adult novel in the same time frame.
These are the story threads for today.
- Behind the scenes at the cakery, Sandy employs a menagerie of animals.
- Staghorn has birds and bees helping in the cakery.
- March asks Staghorn round for a toasted sandwich.
I also think that I need to round things out about Charlie’s mum. Maybe there will be another postcard from her.
Against the clock
In order to keep writing and let the subconscious mind have its say, I’m writing against a timer. Setting it for fifteen minutes, I write until the timer goes off. Three fifteen minute bursts should be enough for the 750 words I am aiming to get down.
Sandy grunted a few commands and Boo and Kay began dragging sackfuls of flour in from the storeroom. The skunk span the bowls so that the ingredients that Charlie added would mix properly. An army of stinkbugs carried the smaller ingredients in tiny baskets on their backs, tipping them into the bowls as they passed.
Charlie oversaw the whole thing, but the creatures almost had the same instinct for making that cakes by now as he did. There had been a few early disasters, but fortunately they had been before the shop had opened and no-one had been poisoned by an overly sweet crumb or a sour cream filling.
Once the mixture had been fully combined, they parcelled it out into the cases and prepared them for the oven. Dad and Staghorn helped with this part and soon they had them all baking. Charlie could then focus on the fillings and icing.
Sandy’s newest helpers were the bees. They established a hive out the back of the bakery and Dad had found a new hobby in tending to it. The honey that Charlie used came straight from the bees, and with Sandy’s persuasion, they even delivered it straight into the kitchen.
Woofy had a role in the kitchen as well. He had a great nose for when the cakes were perfectly done. Sandy asked him to give them a clear signal and so he barked three times. Perfectly baked cupcakes spilled onto the cooling racks and Charlie gave Woofy a doggy treat.
Once the mixture was ready to go, Sandy called to the birds perching in the rafters. With a flutter of wings they swept down and added the flavourings to the filling and icing. Charlie inspected them each as he mixed them to the final consistency, and did the final preparation of the cupcakes. He was in no doubt Sandy could have found helpers for this stage as well, but he liked to have his own signature on each one.
Of course they didn’t advertise how the cupcakes were made to the customers. Would they be so keen on them if they knew there was a menagerie of animals back there working to prepare them? With how fantastic they tasted, possibly. But they didn’t want to bring the health inspectors in with their rules and regulations for how things should be done. Charlie knew that their cupcakes were the best that anyone could ever make, and that was all that mattered.
Charlie’s dad had a flurry of new interest in his PI business after the Miasmus case. He launched himself into helping people to find long lost friends from school. Sometimes this was because they had simply lost touch and were looking to reunite. Other times it was because there was a grievance that had gone unresolved for far too long, and he helped them to talk through their problems and lay any resentment to rest.
The cakery had been doing well for six months when Charlie received a postcard through the mail. Since the one telling March that she was not coming back, they hadn’t heard from mum till now.
The front of the card was a promotion for the Bendy Girls. There was a picture of two women squeezing themselves through a lampshade. One of them was a leaner, fitter, happier Mum. The other was younger and had a severe expression as though she was could force her body into any shape she wanted by the sheer force of will.
Charlie turned the postcard over and read the message on the other side.
Charlie, Sandy, March and Woofy
Just a note to say that I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch in a while, but the Bendy Girls have been going bananas. We’ve been booked out all over China and you wouldn’t believe the things we’ve managed to squeeze into. Our latest act includes us hoovering ourselves into a vacuum cleaner. I wish you could see it.
Obviously things have been going well with you as well as we’ve heard about Quick Cakery all the way over here. I knew that you would find some way to make your unique talents pay off, and I’m very proud of you both.
I think I owe you all an apology in not being there for you all. Sometimes our own plans get in the way of what is best for everyone. When I set out on this journey I didn’t mean to be gone so long, but we can’t predict or control the future. When you have something calling to you, there is a choice to be made, and I made mine, rightly or wrongly. I have to own my decision.
I have planned the next phase of our tour and we will be in Australia early next year. I can’t wait to see what you have made of your business and to hold you Charlie and Sandy again.
Please keep on listening to your hearts and doing what’s right for you.
That is the end of the first draft. Is it ready for someone to read? No way. My husband is clamouring to read it — he wanted to wait until I had finished a draft and he could read it all the way through — but I wish he would wait until I have revised and made it the best story I can. At the moment, it is unformed and ugly and not what I hope it will become.
Does this ending work? I think probably not at all! I am well aware of all its faults and hope to make it much better next time around.
Total words in first draft 39,536.