The Beast Post-Mortem

Is a post-mortem the sort of thing one does for novels? I know it’s not uncommon in the field of video game development. And corpses, I suppose. Well, whatever. I’m doing it anyway.

Let’s start with some stats, huh? Everyone loves stats.

  • Target Word Count: 50,000

  • Final Word Count: 89,437 (whoops…)

  • Page Count (Palatino Linotype, single-spaced): 176

  • Start Time (according to the file creation): June 25th, 2014, 12:44:48am

  • Finish Time (according to file last modified): July 31st, 2015, 4:02:19am

  • File Size: 1.05mb (Holy crap! Over a megabyte of text?!)

  • Bottles of Liquor Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: At least one

  • Bottles of Beer Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: At least six

  • Cans of Coda Actively Consumed During the Writing Process: Countless

  • Devoted Friends That Read Consistently and Offered Regular Support and Encouragement: At least two

  • Bullet Points Since This Conceit Got Stale: Four, counting this one

Well, then. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo every November since I started this blog (that’s three tries, for those of you counting along at home.) Thus far I’ve been entirely unable to complete it. 2012 and 2013 saw me fail completely, giving up early and going off to sulk. 2014 saw me finish out the month (partially because I was under a self-imposed obligation to post every day.) I think I had more of a sense of where the story would ultimately wind up going when I began working on The Beast.

I had an overall arc in mind. From scene to scene, I was improvising and just letting the characters bounce off of each other, but I also had a general direction to write in. I could clearly envision Chad waking up on the last day completely spent and humbled; I just had to reach that point.

Something else I had this time around that I didn’t have in previous efforts was a handful of devoted friends who read pretty much every post and let me know what they thought of the whole thing. They also offered no shortage of support and encouragement (and the occasional bit of constructive criticism,) and hey, nothing helps you stay the course like being told you’re pretty while doing it.

Am I happy with the novel as it is now? Nope. It’s far from done. Even as I was working on it, I realized that there were things I wanted to change, things I should have done differently, scenes that should be altered or tweaked or cut outright. But part of posting to a blog and not just toiling away in a dank dungeon somewhere meant that the show had to go on no matter what. Friends would comment on missed posts. Readership and site views dropped on those days, too.

Fear of public failure and humiliation are pretty good motivators, too. A sort of modern-day Sword of Damocles.

Where do I go from here? I’m not entirely sure, yet. I intend to put some temporal distance between myself and the novel. A month, at least. Then I’ll read it with fresh eyes and begin the editing process in earnest. In the meantime, I’m giving myself the rest of the week off. My sleep schedule’s been absolutely fucked the past couple weeks, so turning in early will do me some good, I think.

Maybe some day, fortune willing, you’ll see The Beast on Amazon or Smashwords or a bookstore somewhere (physical bookstores are still things, right?) Until then, thank you for reading!

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