For my latest work in progress, a romantic fiction novel that carries the working title "Walhalla", I reached that milestone yesterday - and I almost couldn't believe it.
I've spent just short of a year working on this one, if you include the time that I spent *not* working on it because of some health challenges, and it was because of those health challenges that this milestone feels all the more sweeter.
When I lost my voice after I had surgery on my throat and vocal cords, I mistakenly believed that I would actually throw myself into the project during my enforced convalescence at home. In truth, I lost all motivation for writing. My writer's voice had become just as silent as my physical one and there were times when I thought I would abandon "Walhalla" completely. I grew to hate writing and I grew to hate myself because I hated writing.
What pulled me out of the hole I found myself in?
She... (image credit Lucasfilm Ltd.)
Carrie Fisher's death in December of last year had an impact on me. Apart from the fact that she was my most favorite "bad-ass princess" throughout the now 40 years of Star Wars, Fisher was widely regarded as a brilliant writer and script doctor - able to weave complex narrative tapestries and turn the most parlous of screenplays into something special. And she did all this while waging a none to secret battle with mental illness. In the ensuing obituaries and reflections on her life, I guess I received something akin to a kick in the pants from her.
Somehow, I clawed my way out of the hole and I recommitted to this story. I realized that I actually loved it. For this is a story that I think will likely be my most personal one.
"Walhalla" is set in a little mountain town in Victoria, Australia - a place I have known and loved my entire life. Steeped in history and the site of one of the biggest gold rushes in 19th century Australia, Walhalla has refused to die - even though it was thought many times that it would. Somehow it has endured and is undergoing something of a renaissance, thanks to a renewed interest in its history and the opportunities afforded to it by tourism.
For me, Walhalla serves as the setting for what I hope will be an engaging love story between a Doctor who has returned to his home town after the failure of his marriage and a Baker whose tragic past has instilled her with a steely determination to succeed with her nascent business. Walhalla - the story, like the town - is filled with a cast of quirky characters, all of whom are derived from people who have been a fixture in my life and I hope their presence will leap off the page as I develop the story further.
Because, even though I have typed the words "The End" on this first draft - it is really just beginning.
Editing is a process that I love. It is challenging, frustrating and rewarding all at the same time. Once I have completed my first pass over the manuscript, I'll have a team of people to whom I will pass a second draft onto to get their insights, advice, criticisms and recommendations. I will incorporate all of those into a third draft - and then I'll be at a stage where I hope to submit it to my publisher.
I hope you might like to join me on this journey. I'll keep you updated - not too frequently - about my progress and I'd like to share a little bit of ephemera about the actual town Walhalla and how it has influenced me over all these years.