Update on the Novel

It feels like I’ve been working on my first novel forever, and maybe I have.

I first came up with the idea for it in sixth grade (1990) after writing a short story for class and feeling that I could expand it into a novel. I outlined it during my high school years, which is when I got most of my book ideas and began writing them down. I mention it in my London diary entries (2000), as I had a dream that influenced the direction the novel would take. I’m not sure, however, if this and other ideas really took, as the novel was completely rewritten while I was in Japan (and during the first few months after I returned home) without referencing them.

I started writing the first draft of the novel in 2002 or 2003. I had my dad print it out about a year or so before I went to Japan, though I stopped editing it several months before I left, if not earlier, unhappy with some forced episodes in the novel that, if extracted, would leave me with little story, but, if included, would not flow naturally from the story. The rewritten first draft took a little over a year to write, mainly because I only had an hour a night to work on it in Japan, if that long. I wrote most of part one over there, and the rest of the novel (including all of part two) after returning home.

I did take several months off between finishing the first/second draft (the one I started in Japan) and starting the second/third draft, which is when I began putting it on the computer. I have finished the second/third draft of part one of the novel, but have hit a snag in writing part two. I found two episodes which I need (and which the story needs) sounding forced upon the characters, so I have to figure out a way for things to happen in the story naturally, but in a way that allows for these two key episodes to take place. Right now, if everyone acts like they’re supposed to, and I don’t create events that force their hand, there will be no climax.

I feel that soon, I will again be putting off the novel for a time, so that I may return to it later with fresh eyes. I hope to finish the second/third draft, at least, before I do that, which is why right now, I am outlining the novel as is, up to the point that sounds forced. I also plan on making a timeline (thanks, Wesleyan Writers Conference). I might put the climax on the timeline as well and figure out how to build to it from what I have. After all, the only rule in writing that I follow is to do whatever works. By outlining the entire novel up until that point, I should be able to see where the novel is going, which will also help me in constructing my climax. Most of it is good; I just have to figure out how to get the main character to be there without having him act against his character, nor the other characters in the novel acting against theirs. Trust me, it’s more difficult than it sounds.

So, I hope that I can take a break from the novel within a month or two. I have a short story idea that I’d like to work on, and I can use the break time to almost exclusively look for a job and a place to live. One of my friends wants me to live near her in the D.C. area, but unless someone’s willing to put me up for a few months rent-free (I’d pay for food and utilities), I’ll have to find a job first. Then again, finding a job in an area far from where one lives is more difficult than finding one near where one lives, especially concerning interviews, where transportation becomes an issue. We really need a good public transportation system in this country. Otherwise, I’m moving back to Japan.

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