Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'tis done

One hundred and forty-eight days after starting out on the mad adventure, book three of The Ballad of Sir Benfro, tentatively entitled The Golden Cage, is finished.

** breathes huge sigh of relief**

Well, I say finished, but there's still thirty-nine chapter heading mythology sections still to write. And this is only the first draft, so there's going to be a lot of rewriting ahead. But hey, I got to type 'the end'* and that's something.

So where's the sense of exhilaration gone? Where's the sense of enormous achievement? Well, those of you with a keen intelligence will have worked out that this is not my first novel. That was something I wrote about ten years ago, called Running Away. There's been a lot of water under the bridge since then, and several other novels, all of which languish unloved in a dusty drawer. I do still get something of a buzz from finishing a manuscript, but it's a lot less than the high from completing that first one. And Benfro is a four part (possibly five, if I can't work out how to end it sooner) series. So whilst finishing book three is a milestone, it's not the end of the journey. So mixed emotions, really. And a great deal of bewilderment at how things have turned out.

The previous two Benfro books are about 120k words long. The final count of the first draft of book three is 214,850 words. In twelve point, double-spaced Times New Roman on A4 paper, that's 720 pages. It's taken me almost five months to write - far longer than anything I've ever done before - and worn my patience down to the bone. It's even destroyed a keyboard, though that might have been my ham-fisted typing as well. Dividing the word count by the number of days it took gives an average daily total of 1450 words - not bad, but not brilliant. If you take into account the fact that I rarely write at the weekends, though, that climbs to 1700. And if you take off the days when I was away from home, it creeps over 2000 - much better. On the days that I did write, the minimum I managed was about 300, which was hardly worth it, and the maximum a finger-burning 6200 words.

All good stuff, I'm sure. At least for those of you who like dodgy statistics. But the most depressing fact, and the one that I've spent five months trying hard not to think about, is this: even if a publisher picks up the Benfro series tomorrow, this book that I've just finished writing is unlikely to see a book store until 2010 at the earliest.

It's a long game, writing. We'd better enjoy doing it, otherwise there's really no point in carrying on.

Now I'm off to think about book four. And maybe a little light diversion of crime.**

*actually that's a lie. It's not the last book in the series, and everything is left hanging for the next book. So I didn't type 'the end.' I actually finished with 'she was the most beautiful dragon he had ever seen.'
**writing, that is.


Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Hey, it takes me several years to finish a 200K book, so stop complaining. :)

October 04, 2006 4:51 pm  
Blogger Trace said...

Woohoo! You rock, James!

October 04, 2006 5:53 pm  
Blogger Daniel Hatadi said...

Hey, good for you, matey. Ooooh arggh, must stop this pirate thing.

It's a good feeling, though, even if a little anticlimactic.

October 06, 2006 1:17 pm  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

Bloody blogger's not been showing me your posts for yonks, so I missed this one on the day - Congrats on kicking that dragon’s tail!

October 06, 2006 2:29 pm  
Blogger Dr. Lisa said...


October 07, 2006 5:19 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Thanks, everyone. It's been a long and winding road, as Paul Macartney once sung. Actually, I think he probably sung it more than once. Quite a lot of times, really.

October 07, 2006 7:23 pm  
Anonymous Paul D said...

Hi James
Just finished the Golden Cage after reading the first 2 in the series, loved the books as well as the inspecter McClean novels. Just one comment I would hate to be a hero in one of your books, you really give them a hard time I hope Errol and Sir Benfro start winning a few in the next book. Keep them coming.

December 18, 2012 7:47 pm  

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