Oh. My. Gosh.
So, I was finishing the draft for chapter 27, and it hit me: I’m… I’m almost done with The Nightmares of Under-London.
This book. I mean. It’s been four years in the making. That absolutely blows my mind.
I remember sitting down at my desk, tucked in the corner in my dining room/kitchen, back in May of 2012, and thinking to myself, “Okay, who’s my main character?”
I pounded out the first three chapters in a tizzy, put them down, and came to them a week later. I realized I completely didn’t like what it was or where it was going.
So I did a different first three chapters.
Which was followed by three more different drafts of the first chapter.
Which was then followed by another hash session, where I whipped out the post-it notes and broke it down.
So I tried another three chapters.
And then I did the post-it notes again. I agonized over trying to make this thing work, in the sense of making what I wanted and making it functionally sound and something I could be proud of. My partner in crime, Anne, can attest to all of the late-night coffee sessions, the myriad of half-crazed emails, the flurries of texts and innumerable moments of, “What the hell am I doing? I should defenestrate my computer and live in a cave for the rest of my life.”
Anne has talked me down from this course of action probably ten different times now, if not more.
I wrote the first full draft back in 2013 for NaNoWriMo in a caffeine-fueled fever-dream. If I remember correctly, that may have been the year Anne, a friend, and I all danced around a bonfire as an invocation to the NaNo gods? Anyway. I sat on it for a month. I came back to it in January and realized I liked it, but I could still see (and therefore fix) some of the structural errors, a handful of plot-holes and whatnot.
So I struggled with rebuilding it for another year, and tried again for NaNo ’14. That’s where I found the rest of the problems.
I wasn’t able to do much with it last year, because Real Life got in the way for a while, but when I came back to it last fall, I knew I’d finally found it.
It’s taken me this whole past year just to write this draft. And now I’m only a few chapters away from it being Done. Like, Done-Done.
It’s… weirdly freeing, in its own way. I can track how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown as a writer just toiling on this one work. I thought, halfway through this mess, back in ’14 or so, that I’d have all these same problems whenever I got to the next book. But I don’t think I will.
I know I’ll need a little hiatus to make sure I’ve got the next plot as intricately mapped out as I need it to be, but otherwise? I know where it’s going. I know my characters, and I know the universe. I know it’s not going to take me another four years, hahahaha.