Folks, you’re gong to need to indulge me. Having finished the edits of The Audacity Gambit, I need to decompress and talk some process.
At the start of this year, when I started this focus thing, my focus was writing—specifically, getting some significant headway into a book. The longest finished piece I think I’ve ever written was a little over 4,000 words long and itself a product of that focus month. One of the standard definitions of a novel is 40,000 words—ten times that.
But I had an idea that I wanted to mangle out that long. Your regular idea, born of several obsessions and personal themes. It wasn’t like I hadn’t written things of total length. There was that weekly webcomic I had for what? Two and a half years? I could finish a story (let’s ignore Anise and Slow Build here), I wasn’t going to let word count stop me.
A dear friend of mine had recently finished her first book and another has been serialising theirs for a while, so there was encouragement that it could be done. I could so do this, however daunting. In the three-ish years since I finished that comic, my outlining process had changed significantly. Back then it was constantly evolving outlines, sub-outlines, plotted timelines and so forth, each more detailed down to the script. For this story I made the loosest outline possible. I barely knew how it’d end (and don’t worry, spoiler-fearers, what you see below is an old version, not the outline I ended up using for the end).
But I got a big chunk of it written in January, enough to put in the can and start updating once my lovely first reader had edited it. And once I had a title.
It was the title that really pushed back the first update. I hate naming things, because there is a stupid amount of weight involved in a name. Since I was focusing on tropes, I rabbit-holed TVTropes, looking for some one thing to click in my head. I couldn’t tell you how exactly I decided on “The Audacity Gambit”, but I do know that I love the idea of audaciousness. There’s a sense of foolhardiness to it when applied to bravery.
So, it was named and began updating and I started again that weird cycle I’d set aside years before—of building up and depleting an update queue, then building it back up—a flurry of behind the scenes attempts to not fail an invisible audience who in theory expected a regular schedule. I serialised it as I wrote because I’ve learned over the years that promising the internet regular updates is enough to shame me into keeping up a working pace. It also meant I’d get intermittent feedback from folks who have opinions I value. It’s encouraging for me to have that while I’m writing.
I wanted to finish the damn thing by the end of the year. And I handwrote the last line in early December (the majority of the first draft has been written by hand since the summer). Not too long later I typed up the last chapter and passed it on to my first reader. It’s all queued up and will run until March 11, 2012. Less than a year of weekly updates, but not a bad little run.
I look forward to not thinking about Audacity Gambit for a couple of months. Then I can read the thing from start to finish and run another series of edits. I don’t know what all I’m doing with it once it’s all done, but something written and edited in pieces like this needs another inspection as a whole.
Here’s where The Audacity gambit was written:
- On the MAX light rail, when I commuted from the suburbs into the city for work.
- During the second half of C.O.P.S. classes, since I didn’t always want to attend a critique class.
- In two coffee shops, Tiny’s SE and Press Club. I finished the thing at Press Club (and drafted this post there, even).
- During my smoke breaks at work.
- At the laundromat (which is where I am typing up this post). I actually don’t know what I’ll do while I wait for my laundry now.
This is probably boring, as most introspective looks at process are, but I’m still coming down. I wrote a book guys! At 38,000+ words it isn’t technically a novel, but who cares. I am warning you, expect a nerdy, meandering look at themes and junk that I had to look up in the future.
Anyway, why don’t you (if you haven’t yet) try reading The Audacity Gambit? It updates Sundays at 9pm and all the entries are linked to here.