"The train was watching Olesya undress. She thought it shuddered under the carpet, thick purple carpet, felt the shudder through the soles of her shoes, new flats acquired for the tour in a boutique on Tverskaya, a red lacquer pair that cost half of her principal dancer salary, but it was worth it, dammit, it was worth it to spend—"
THIS IS THE NEW OPENING AND I ALREADY WANT TO FIX IT BUT I'LL WAIT.
I finished Draft 2 of TUBE yesterday! You can read the whole damn thing here! And send me messages like "It sucked!" or "I love it!" But you already know this as I'd shouted about it from every rooftop, albeit being half-dead whilst at it. Consider this an in-depth shout with a story of how this draft came to life over 4 months, the longest time I've ever spent on a draft to date in the 3 years I've been writing, and the things it has taught me.
I started working on Draft 2 with the lighthearted intent on tackling 121K words of Draft 1 in a month or two and it ended at a whooping 153K words and 707 pages 4 months later, having changed from a silly train-kills-ballerinas kind of tale to a seriously sickening and twisted story that raised hair on my shackles and got me to dig up some wonderful shit buried deep. I tried to shush it and couldn't and now it's written.
HERE ARE 10 THINGS IT TAUGHT ME.
1. I came into myself somewhat. I'm not quite there yet, not quite where I want to be, but I'm there some of the time and in those long and winding and run-on sentences in this draft I found some of me and I was okay with it and I even started loving it a little which is an oddity to me. I mostly hate my writing as is our creators' curse.
2. I have slowed down and allowed the story to set its own tempo and in this process wrote a lot of extra water that will need to be trimmed in the next draft (it's purple, too). All those lengthy descriptions will go. Maybe I'll keep a few. 2 characters will be cut, so will be some of the train crew. The plot will be tightened and I already know how. Imagine that. This is the first time that I've been plotting along as I wrote by doing one sentence summaries for each scene, 92 scenes total. About 40% of Draft 2 will be gone in Draft 3.
3. We have found a common rhythm with Royce, me reading to him every night what I wrote and him pointing out to me what works and what doesn't and this will be the first draft he will read through and mark up like a real editor (he gets kisses for payment) before I will start Draft 3. I'm excited about that. He has an excellent eye for patterns and as he's not trained to edit he gives me his feedback rough, the way he sees the issues as a reader, and I love that. He helped fix many holes in this draft as I wrote it.
4. My writing style changed in the course of the draft itself. When I saved it for you to upload and read, I glanced at the first page and it took the willpower of an obdurate rhinoceros for me NOT TO TOUCH THE BLOODY THING. I wanted to start fixing it right there and then and had to bite off all of my fingers. Don't worry, new fingers are already hatching.
5. Russian versus American expressions is a new dilemma in this draft and in my writing overall. I didn't see it before. In the previous books I just wrote what I got used to hearing around me for the 16 years that I've lived here, then something happened. I began to see the turns of phrases I use and how Russian they are and how not quite palatable to an American ear they must seem. So I bought the idiom dictionary and happily started plugging in correct translations into my dialogue. You will see this change in the middle of the draft, mostly in Natasha's talk. And then I stumbled on this one. The literal translation from Russian is, "It's better to see something once than to hear about it a hundred times." It's a mouthful, and the American equivalent is "One picture is worth a thousand words." It's not quite the same. I've been also reading some brilliantly translated Russian books like The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya and Day of Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin and saw that some sayings were translated with a flourish that retained the Russian in it and yet were folksy enough in English to sound right. Tell me what you think about this, which half of the draft you like. I will be choosing one or the other for Draft 3.
6. The characters have started coming to me complete with their family histories. Where in the past I had to make myself write up their moms and dads and hobbies and whatnot, all at once here they would pop out of the ether complete and giggling. It's a huge improvement.
7. THIS IS THE FIRST DRAFT THAT I WROTE IN COMPLETE SILENCE WHILE READING THE THING ALOUD TO MYSELF I WROTE. I did this partially with the last draft of The Badlings where I think I started with the music and then gave up on it. This draft I did it consiously and will do so from now on. It makes a world of difference.
8. My typical routine of 2K words a day changed with this draft to 5 hours of uninterrupted writing instead. I still count words and they come out to about 1.2-1.6K a day, but the number is no longer important. I now try to finish a scene a day or at least a half a scene. This is new.
9. For the first time I didn't rush. Slowing down is scary, I tell you. Not sure yet what this will produce but I have learned so much over these 4 months of writing slowly that it simply won't fit in this post. I'll try to eke out a post here and a post there for you to recount more things, the main of them being, slow is fast. Meaning, writing slowly saves me on rewriting time later.
10. Breaks kill my pace. Long gone are the days when I started my writing days crying. There were two reasons for this. One, I used to do social media BEFORE I wrote and breaking out of conversation mode to was painful and I had fits of anxiety exacerbated by some smart shit I glimpsed on Twitter or elsewhere and as a result thought how I'm not as smart and how I'm stupid and so on. It was torture. I now do social media AFTER I write. And two, I stopped breaking for weekends. I remember Mondays where excruciating. I had to remember the story, had to goad myself into it. No more of that. I write every day, period. Oh, the bliss! No anxiety anymore. And now I get all those missed weekends compacted in weeks of reading and spitting at the ceiling and eating cookies and drinking tea between the drafts.
SO, WHEN WILL I START DRAFT 3 AND WHEN WILL THE BOOK BE PUBLISHED?
As a rule I take at least 2 weeks off between drafts. But I also have 2 weeks worth of tasks piled up like things to fix in Rosehead and in The Badlings republish them everywhere and read through special library requirements to get my ebooks there and figure out my medical insurance situation and so on. Plus there are the holidays and the kids' crazy schedules and I have promised a little consulting gig to do in December for some extra cash, and all of that means that...
I'LL START DRAFT 3 IN JANUARY.
On January 2nd, as soon as the holiday madness is over. I expect it will take me 3 months and after another break I'll do Draft 4 and then it'll go to Sarah and that is putting the publishing date close to the end of summer? Oh God, I hope it won't take that long. It'll be the first book that took me more than a year to write. But I'll let it runs its course. I want it to be very good. Thank you for your patience to those of you who have pre-ordered it already. You won't be disappointed.