Monday, 15 August 2016

The Ending Story

There’s a special feeling to finishing writing a book. I don’t know how to express it, though I’ve felt it several times before.

The first book I wrote, eleven years ago, was Rainbow’s End. That was a monster effort, taking me a year and a half. I’d write in longhand first, and then after I’d got a few days’ worth of material ready, I’d shift to the desktop and rewrite at the same time as getting it on Word. It was a very time consuming process, not helped by the fact that I literally made every single first time author’s error, starting off with assuming that this was my one chance ever to write a book, so I should put in everything I could.

I still recall the day I finally completed it. I’d taken the day off work owing to the death of a relative. By that time I’d given up writing on paper first, and begun tapping away directly on the keyboard. I wrote all the morning and into the afternoon, and, suddenly, before I quite knew it, I was within striking range of finishing the whole thing. So I did.

I didn’t sleep for two days afterwards.

The act of finishing that book was so draining that I felt as though I had been scooped out from the inside. Now, elsewhere, I’ve described how, at that time, I was under the insane delusion that one had only to write a book in order to find a publisher. After all, that’s what publishers were for, right?

It took me two full years to acknowledge to myself that I was wrong.

Today, I am no longer proud of Rainbow’s End. It’s execrably overwritten, crammed with pointless subplots, and fairly stuffed with purple prose. I am not exactly broken hearted that it sank without a trace. Someday, if I’m ever famous enough for someone to ask me for a book, any book, I might totally rewrite...and drastically curtail...Rainbow’s End, and get it published. But until then, may it stay buried.

For a few years after the crushing disappointment of Rainbow’s End I wrote nothing in the way of long fiction. For a fairly long period I wrote nothing at all. And it was only after joining (a wonderful website, now sadly murdered by corporate greed) did I start blogging, and then writing stories, again.

It was at some point during these years that I read a story by Lucius Shepard, The Man Who Painted The Dragon Griaule, about a gigantic buried dragon and an artist who sets out to murder it with paint. My reaction was instant – I hated, hated, hated every word of it. To this day, I hate it. And, somewhere in my mind, there rose a desire to write a story specifically as a Take That to Shepard.

It was somewhere during those years, too, that I saw a snippet of a film – I think it was The Neverending Story – which featured a laughing child atop a furry flying beast. The two ideas came together in my mind to make a short story – it was all of some 5000 words long – called Dragonsdawn. I wrote it, exorcised my bile, and thought I’d forget about it.

                                            Yes, this was it.                                  [ Image Source]

Only my readers didn’t. My readers, especially one young lady, insisted on knowing what happened next. And so, against my better judgement, I wrote a sequel. And in order to justify that sequel, I had to expand the original story to about double its length.

And of course that sequel raised the demand for another...

To date I have written four novels. I have already spoken of Rainbow’s End. That was planned from the start, as was my third novel, Fidayeen. In between I wrote The Call Of The Khokkosh – a lighthearted little book of which I’m quite fond, and which took all of three weeks to write, from start to finish. That, too, started with what I imagined would be a one-off short story, and then gathered additional chapters due to reader demand. And, that, too, took like forever before it found anyone willing to publish it.

And when that was over, I remember sitting back from my computer with a feeling of being emptied –I’d written a chapter a day, every day, for three weeks, and I needed the rest. But I’d not worked on the book for nearly as long as Rainbow’s End, and I had correspondingly less of a reaction of feeling drained when I finished it.

Fidayeen was a different matter altogether. This was a book I had worked hard – very hard – over. I’d researched everything I could, and actually kept the first draft sitting in my computer for years...years!...while I decided whether I should continue it. By then I’d no illusions left about publishers, and the repeated heartbreak of pro forma rejection notices wasn’t something I was willing to put up with anymore. But unfinished business has a way of preying on one’s mind, and unfinished business about a topic that’s dear to your heart, much more. At that time I’d no way of knowing it would be my big break.

So I finished Fidayeen, and as I expected, all I got was rejection notices. I remember telling a friend then that I’d never again write anything expecting or hoping for it to be published; I’d rather put it all online because then at least it would be read. But when I finished it, once again, I felt drained and exhausted.

But the next day I was back at my keyboard, writing.

Today – this morning – I finished writing The Day Of The Dragon, which began merely as a fit of pique against an author who’d never, ever, read it. This is the first time I have ever written anything (anything at all) with the clear knowledge that it would be published, because, as I said, my publisher has taken it on, in advance, sight unseen. I am pleased with the results, with my account of the adventures of Batali and the dragon Yamond, but whether it will be popular with readers...well, time will tell.

But what are my feelings now? Do I feel drained? No. I am glad to get this one over with, and I hope it does well with readers. But I’m now thinking of the next two books.

My next novel to go to a publisher will be The Chronicles of Chheechkaduni, which is actually a series of linked stories featuring the adventures of the titular, and very conceited, character...which also grew out of what was intended to be a one-off short story and then caved in to readers’ demands. I’ve already written eleven of the stories. I intend to do a baker’s dozen, and in all likelihood future volumes as well. But since it won’t be a real novel, just stories written over a period of time, I doubt I’d react to it as a novel, even if everyone else might.

So my next writing project- the next full novel – will be the sequel to Fidayeen, tentatively titled Black Flag. I did not intend a sequel. But apparently everyone else expects one. And, reading the book, it seems to me that I apparently had expected to write a sequel as well, given the number of characters whose fate I left uncertain.

And, of course, Kashmir has not been resolved, and maybe never will.



  1. Back before I started blogging, I tried my hand at writing novels.

    I have two completed.

    I laughed when I read your description of your first, because mine suffers from the same things. Stuffed with every idea I could come up with (one person who read it asked me where I would find new ideas for my second one), way too verbose... there are even songs!

    The second one is better, but starts off badly. I suck at editing.

    Each took me 7 months to write.

    I'm hesitant to give 7 months of my life again to a project that winds up on a disc I can't even access.

  2. You're lucky to still have yours. I started writing three books after writing A Farie Tale, which was destroyed when Multiply shut down, and all three were lost when Jill broke into my computer and crashed the hard drives. Ah well. If I can ever get my desktop computer going, at least I have my life story which I was working on.

    Bill, you're a great writer. You're much better than I am. You deserve to be published. I hope all goes well with your books.

  3. Well done! You are the great author!
    I am proud of you.


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