Sometimes I wonder where the time goes. It’s been five months since my last update, when I celebrated making it through Till Death Do Us Party, draft 4. Given my love of iterations, with a draft 2.1 thrown in the mix, that was actually the fifth draft. So following the logic of my iterative love, it’s been just under twenty-four hours since I finished my seventh draft. Or, as I like to call it, Till Death Do Us Party, draft 4.2.
As much as I could waffle on about my numbering conventions, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here because of the momentous occasion of me not making it through just one iteration, but two. It may have taken five months, but I got there. It’s not as long as the eight months between drafts three and four, and as much as I wonder where the time—and this entire fucking year, to be honest—has disappeared to, it occurs to me that this delay (unlike that last one) isn’t entirely thanks to my procrastinating ways. After wrapping up that third draft, I concentrated on getting the rest of the year’s book reviews out, as well as a short story. After essentially taking January off to refresh (something I’m trying to make an annual tradition of) and play some video games, I jumped into the new year’s reviews, building a lead that I could squander on draft 4.1.
And around mid-February, I got to work on the draft. The plan was a reasonably simple one: massage what I have into something that reads more smoothly. Add some words here and there, and remove more words than I add. While Till Death Do Us Party won’t be a book for everybody, I have to say that I’m a little partial to it. I like what’s there, but it needed some more tweaking to hopefully ease my anxiety over the thought of letting anybody read it.
At the tail end of my edits, I discovered that ProWritingAid gets a little confused when you—or at least I—hack and slash it too much, changing words, changing them again, and changing them more for effect. And when this happens, when merging edits back into the document, some paragraphs will have all these changes incorporated into them, presenting a lovely wall of gibberish.
And thus, after determining a workaround for those very last chapters, draft 4.2 was born. Despite my naming conventions, this draft, where I was editing the edits, is perhaps the first true iterative version. Of course, I couldn’t let the pass go without adding some further edits to it, because editing is a perpetual loop, inescapable in its addictiveness.
If you follow my newsletter (this post isn’t about cross-promotion, but because I can’t help myself, click this link to head on through to it on Substack, where you can both read and subscribe) you’ll also know that March ended with the passing of my family’s beloved cat, which put a strain on the late nights I spend in front of the screen, typing away.
But less than twenty-four hours before I started writing this, I got there. A more streamlined draft, one where the words flow that little bit better. One with some asides thrown in, one with some extra connective tissue (just last night, I discovered I had omitted an explanation the final scene hinges on). One with an added chapter, bringing it to thirty-seven, but also one that—for the first time since draft 2.1—comes in under 130,000 words. Granted, it’s 129,361 words, but I’ll take it as a win.
And perhaps most importantly, I still like it. With each draft I like it that little bit more, and I hope that when it’s finally out in the world, you like it, too. My tweaking hasn’t completely eased my anxiety about anybody reading it, but I’m feeling like this could be the draft I send out to some trusted alpha readers, the very moment I summon the courage. I hope they like it, too. I fear they won’t—and a whole lot more—and I’ll eventually see if my world comes crashing down around me.
So, the next draft—an iteration-free Till Death Do Us Party, draft 5—will likely change based on the feedback I’ve received. Following that, I’m hoping I can expand the circle a bit, and send it out for wider critique, before closing in on the final product.
Hopefully, it won’t be eight months before I can celebrate another milestone, but it’ll be a little while as I summon the courage to pass it on, and then wait for that dreaded feedback. In the meantime, I’ll get ahead with book reviews again; a not insignificant task, with May being a huge month for them (I’m really looking forward to these books; and again, because I can’t help myself, you can click here to follow them). I may even spend a little time away from this desk and play some video games, which I resolved to do more of back in January, but haven’t gotten to.
But I won’t be spending a month gaming. Because I also have to get to work on Luminary, draft 2. Which will be the third draft, but that’s just me and my wacky numbering conventions.