The End, and the Beginning, Have Arrived.
Last night, around 7:00PM, I made the final revision in the final draft of my upcoming novel, Flowers of Dionysus. Barring any mistakes that I spot during formatting, (and a bit of waffling I’m doing on some character names) I have altered the manuscript for the final time. From here on out, the focus is on preparing it for self-publication in June. (Thanks to J. Lea Lopez for her professional proofread of the previous draft.)
For the author, a moment sch as this may be more significant than getting the book published, in either the traditional or the self-published route. The final set of revisions means that the straight up writing and creating of the novel is complete. Up until that point, the characters, the sequence, the world we as author’s have created is somewhat in flux. That flux usually solidifies a bit more with each draft, but during any given round of revisions there is some pliability. When revisions are over, things are in a sense crystallized. If you want to be poetic about it, you could say the story ceases at that point to belong to the author. The final revisions of the final draft mark the very first baby step in the books journey into the hands of readers, wherein it will be something different to each person.
In other words, though there is a lot of work left to be done in the dreadful world of publishing and promoting, the completion of revisions is a big deal.
How do you know when you’ve reached the end of the revisions process? I suppose those lucky enough to be traditionally published know it’s over when the various professionals who work at the publishing house say it is over. Perhaps their moment like this comes when they start shopping their finished manuscript, I really don’t know as I have never done it. For me, it was over when I declared it over. In other words, I had to recognize that every time I went through a round of revisions, I could potentially go back and read the novel again to see how it sounds. And while doing so, I could detect another several dozen things to tweak, or change or eliminate or add. That cycle can lead to perfectionism, which can be deadly to productivity. At some point an author must have faith that they have been diligent in their revisions and edits, and declare them complete, so they can move on with the next phase of things. That is what I did last night.
The idea for Flowers of Dionysus came about as a result of several different unexpected inspirations in the summer of 2009. A few moments and experiences in my life at around the same time led me to develop the concept of the novel, as well as elements of a few key scenes and lines. I also read a fantasy novel around that time which inspired me with its tone. All of those things came together at just the right time to motivate me into writing this novel.
The rough draft took about a year, and I let it sit for about six months before I began revisions on it. I’d wait a month or so after finishing each subsequent draft as well, before moving on to the next round. Nine rounds in all. Six years total from concept to final draft. Total length, just over 87,000 words. (The first draft was about 25% longer.) I read the first page of the first draft again last night. While as the author I can see the common concept between it and the final draft of the first page, it’s quite different. I’ve learned a lot about my writing since I composed that first page six years ago, which is probably why future novels won’t take that long to complete. I don’t think I can afford to take that long doing it anymore, anyway. But this being my first novel intended for outside eyes, I guess I wanted to make sure I got it as right as could be.
Naturally you’ll be hearing a lot more about this novel now, over the next few months. I’m going to promote it as best as I can on what little budget is available to me. My short story collection from last year did not do what I hoped it would do, so I am more nervous this time than I was last year when I thought word of mouth support from acquaintances would help me attain my modest goals. Yet I move forward anyway, knowing that writing nothing will sell nothing.
And as for Matt, Marcus, Tanya, Centauri, Ben, Kurt, Frieda and all the rest of the characters in this novel; welcome to completion.