Sunday, June 29, 2014

State of Sin: The Last Day

Today is a very special day that's both a happy day and a sad day.

A year and a day ago, I started officially writing the first draft of State of Sin. I'd planned on finishing the draft in a year flat, but hey, it's been a fun weekend, including finishing reading June's book. So today I write the last chapter to be written of State of Sin. I say the last to be written as opposed to the last in the book - I wrote the chapters out of order for the most part. You'd be impressed at how easy that makes foreshadowing. The less impressive explanation is that the fourth chapter was so difficult to write I had to come back to it a couple times, and I wasn't about to delay the rest of the novel for its benefit. At that point, writing in order was scrapped. That's fine, though, as State of Sin is as much a collection of short stories as it is a novel, each with a different narrator. There are twenty-nine narrators over the span of twenty-four chapters and a prologue. Over the past year, I've been a teenage girl, a housewife, an elderly person and a homeless person, among others, four people I thought I'd never be. I went into State of Sin thinking it'd be easier to write because I'd never get bored of a particular narrator. Naturally, it was far tougher. The closest comparison is writing a Machine of Death book all by yourself. Something like Megamorphs may also be a decent comparison, although the narrators in those books recur quite often. In State of Sin, no character ever appears twice, whether as a narrator or otherwise.

Whether I'll write another novel after State of Sin, I'm not sure. I might get so wrapped up in other pursuits I only ever have time to write short stories. Alternatively, I might want to take the plunge of writing a novel again at some point. At my current rate, having started novels in 2007*, 2009^, 2010** and 2013^^, I'll be back on the trail in a year or two. Part of me hopes I will be. Part of me hopes I won't be. I suppose it'll come down to whether I feel I have as compelling a storyline again.

State of Sin is unique to me in the sense that it's the first novel I've written that has a story I truly love. I originally came up with the story in about 2003 when learning about token economies in high school. From then, it's been a lot of putting the idea in the back of my head while writing other novels (technically, seven of them), refining the idea once I realized this was really going to happen (from mid-2012 onward), and doing things like drawing maps of where everyone lives.

From the time I was no taller than my bed, I've wanted to write fiction, especially novels. I wrote a 33,000-word story at age fourteen and went from there. Although State of Sin will be in editing for probably all of July, today could be the last day of my life I ever spend just sitting and writing part of a novel-length work of fiction. How fitting that this chapter will be so much about reflection.

*This novel, entitled Beautiful You, has only been read by a handful of people. It took me six months in almost exactly the first half of 2007. It's abjectly terrible in some ways but it contains some good ideas and was an important step in my development as a fiction writer. Think of it as my Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment. It's also the longest piece of anything I've ever written, coming in at almost 154,000 words. When considering a page holds about 500 words, that's a 308-page book.

^This novel, entitled Inside the Rift, was written in two and a half months. I don't recommend that, for any aspiring authors reading this post. Inside the Rift has its charms, and was ready to be sent to publishers according to an author who read a small part of it, but I ultimately balked because I wanted something better. It's still a pretty solid book, especially what I consider to be the best setting description I've ever written. My goal of writing a novel revolving around setting rather than character or plot was achieved; whether that's a good thing, time may tell. It's the only one of the four novels written from a third-person perspective, something I used a lot more often earlier in my writing career. If/when I write another novel, I'll probably go back to this perspective. Inside the Rift is around 108,000 words.

**This novel, entitled Void, is my shortest at about 71,000 words. It was written in three months from 2010-2011. It was my easiest to write in that it only has one narrator but my toughest in that the subject matter was difficult to get on the screen. I flirted with submitting it and may still do so - watch for it?

^^This novel is State of Sin. It's taken the longest of any novel I've ever written. I've also had to juggle the most responsibilities while writing it, making this no surprise. It's over 132,000 words so far, and will probably end up in the 140,000 range, making it my second-longest work.

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