A few years ago, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo. The challenge set to everybody worldwide is thus: write 50,000 between the 1st and 30th of November.
I’ve loved books for a long time, and I’ve always wanted to write my own novel, and my head was full of fantastic ideas having just finished my two and a half year stint on The Hobbit. Perfect. I’d write a fictional story based very loosely on my experience and the people I’d met.
I did it. Thirty days passed and I averages 1,260 words a day, shutting myself in my room with the windows closed while my flatmates and friends enjoyed beers on the garage roof, basking in summer’s early rays. I’d take Hemingway’s advice and write drunk, edit sober. I stayed up late with coffee, I woke up early with coffee, and most of the time I had a lot of fun.
What I ended up with was 52,000+ words of mushy, fantastical crap but promise shone in intermittent chapters. I didn’t show it to anybody — too embarrassed — but a year later while lying on the beach in Bali, I dug out my iPad and started editing. Holidays are always inspiring.
Two or three months passed and I pushed myself back into the routine of setting my alarm an hour early, brewing stovetop coffee and rewriting before my girlfriend woke up for work. Before I knew it, I had rewritten the entire novel, adding storylines and character arcs, omitting all the cringeworthy parts, and generally improving the story. It had turned into 110,000 words.
After a fun formatting session (I love margins and punctuation and fonts, I don’t know why, it just gets me going. I also adore tidiness and organization), the novel sat at 360 pages. I bought a ream of cream coloured paper and printed it out during the quiet moments at work.
Three friends read it and gave me warm compliments and a few notes of feedback. The manuscript sat on the shelf while I concentrated on Chronesthesia.
REWRITING IT AGAIN
Two years later, while holidaying in Europe editing Chronesthesia, I got itchy. I longed for the excitement of being on set, visiting old friends, falling in love, being in awe of the glamour and elegance of celebrities, looking up to filmmaking masterminds. So I dug the book out again.
I rewrote. I uploaded the first chapter to Scribophile, a writing feedback community website, and received fantastic feedback from authors around the globe. Not only were they constructive, but they were infectiously encouraging.
Spurred on by this, I decided to upload my first chapter here, with the possibility of posting further chapters as they are completed. I never set my sights on a publishing deal, I don’t labour under delusions of being the next Mark Watson (although he’s a fantastic author and comedian and I admire his work very much), I simply want people to read it and laugh and feel something I felt: the excitement of getting an incredible job in an industry you love.
The result is What Happens on Set.
And here is the first chapter.No posts available