I've just put the latest Filthy Henry novel, 'Accidental Legend', to bed. It is done. Finished. Completed. Ready for people to read or ignore as they see fit. What's funny, at least from my perspective, about this book is its origins.
Many moons ago, when I was still in school, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. To make money crafting stories similar to those that I read was a dream job. After all, how hard could it be? You just start typing and in a few short hours have a book appear. Right?
Obviously not right. There is all the stuff before you write that first one. Plotting, characters, subplots, genre. The list is long and if you just dive into it as a weekend project you get nowhere. Fast. Trust me I know. But I have talked about how I write in previous posts. This post is about something slightly different.
This post is about the ideas that I write.
Back in my teenage years I had decided to write a story that was a parody of an old Celtic legend. I called it "The Ogra Pig" for no real reason other than it loosely tied into the story (it had a pig made out of solid gold that was alive). I even gave the universe it would exist in a silly name, calling it 'Celtverse'. It took about fifteen false starts over six years before I finally sat down started to write the story properly. I spent time plotting it out, reworking it, wondering why I was bothering with it. Fast forward a few years and I met the lady friend. She encouraged me to actually finish the book and send it out into the wild to see what would happen. So I did. While I was waiting for the publishing contracts to flood through my door I started writing a second Celtverse novel, titled 'Filthy Henry'. It was about a character who worked as a detective in a world filled with magic while he had only his brains.
Neither story saw the light of day really. The responses for 'The Ogra Pig' were lukewarm at best and silent mostly. This made me not even bother with the second novel. It was consigned to the digital scrapheap.
Then a strange notion popped into my head. I figured Filthy Henry could actually be a main character on his own. I (with the godlike powers of an author) pulled him from one world and created a new one just for him. I gave him magic, made him be a detective, the whole nine yards. The end result being the very first Filthy Henry novel that people have been reading for two years now. This was quickly followed by the second one, The Impossible Victim.
But always, somewhere in the back of my mind, my little pig story wanted to be told. After all I had spent time plotting it out. I had it all there, in my crazy mind. Just like keeping all the drafts of a novel in my head at one time, this story was there as well.
So why abandon it?
I spent a month figuring out how I could tell the story again, with Filthy Henry in his current form involved. All the old Celtverse elements were removed, the pig sent off to the rasher factory in the sky, but the bulk of the story survived. The result being 'Accidental Legend'.
It's a funny old world inside my skull
Amazon.com link (Kindle only for the minute):
Accidental Legend Kindle
Accidental Legend Kindle
Accidental Legend Paperback
Draft Three has finally been put to bed. It was a bit of a slog to get through to be honest. Life has a wonderful habit of getting insanely busy at the times you could use for writing. Plus I had some interesting fun during the month with migraines and night terrors, basically writing off two days due to being tired.
But sure what can you do.
Having gone over the notes I managed to get through most of the changes that I felt the draft needed from its previous incarnation. As I work through each one I am keeping copies though, as I said before, to see just how much the story changes between each draft. Right now draft one has a completely different ending to draft three. Not so much that we are talking two completely different books, but it isn't hard to see how some writers go a bit loopy during the editing process.
I once read that Philip K. Dick was super paranoid that "The Man" was out to get him. Now, given his body of work, it wouldn't be hard to say he had to be the crazy side of genius to come up with his stories. But I can't imagine how he went through drafts, changing the plots along the way, of stories that are crazy, not to mention entertaining, to begin with.
Lesson learned, all the drafts are now safely backed up in my Dropbox. The notes for draft four are only four lines. This tortoise is racing along to the finish line at a gentle pace. All I need to do is make sure it's ready by the end of June and it's sorted for the Dublin Comic Convention.
Course I've two weddings in between now and then, but sure what could possibly go wrong...
That was a long rewrite if I do say so myself. I mean seriously. I don't remember a rewrite taking me so long before.
I finished draft one of the third Filthy Henry novel in January. It has taken me until March 19th to get draft two finished and put to bed. There are, of course, a number of factors that contributed to this delay.
First of all I have started sleeping a bit on the bus. I guess that was bound to happen eventually once Nugget arrived. I just was expecting how tired you get while enjoying all the fun stuff of being a parent. Not that I'm complaining, but I am fairly sure that some patrons of the bus I get home have burst eardrums given I am (according to the ladyfriend) a bit of a snorer.
Secondly I had a few pages of notes for draft two. Whole sections to take out, names to be changed, jokes to be inserted. You know, the creative sort of stuff. It meant that I was doing a lot more 'new' writing than just fixing up the existing stuff. But sure that is all in the game really when it comes to writing. What was brilliant, to the author at least, at the start of a book can be chopped and dropped by the time the final draft arrives.
Thirdly I get easily distracted by other things. But ah well, having finished the game I was currently playing (at least the main story) the other night I can at least avoid my Xbox for a few weeks to help speed up draft three
Thankfully draft three only has a quarter the amount of notes for changes. I'm not entirely sure how that happened, since usually the second draft is the big changer. But as I worked through draft two I had some more ideas, little plot bits that I would like to change, that sort of thing. Not the worst thing in the world I suppose.
So long as I get it done by the end of June I'm golden for comic con.
Sure what could possibly go wrong.