Monday, January 25, 2016

Twenty-five First Drafts

About 25 minutes before the Patriots game Sunday afternoon (I know George R.R. Martin is thrilled with the result), I put the best two words on the screen to finish off my latest manuscript, The Peg-Legged Privateer: A Tattered Sails Novel. This book--my 25th novel--is expected to come out later this year, as part of a shared fantasy world created by good friend David Wood. David created the world of Dane Maddock, and he and I co-wrote the first Origins tale in that series a few years ago. David also does the Jaclyn covers for me.

Those two words? Yep. The End. After three and a half months and upwards of 82,000 words, I have a finished first draft, my 25th.

Phew. I'll be honest, gang: That was a tough one. I'll tell you why.

Even though I spent a good portion of 2015 working on strengthening The Obloeron Saga and readying it for re-release, The Peg-Legged Privateer was my first true foray back into the fantasy genre in a little over six years. The last five-plus years have been spent mostly in the thriller genre, and I was, at first, slightly apprehensive about returning to fantasy, especially pirate fantasy. It's not really something I've delved into, even though I do have the Corsair characters in Obloeron. But still, mentioning a character such as the Corsairs and writing an entire book about them are two entirely different beasts.

Centered around Blackmoon Island and the lawless, seafaring town of Port Regret, David explained the Tattered Sails world to me in a nutshell, and gave me direction as to how to write this story: familiarize myself with the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean, and watch Pirates of the Caribbean for a little more background.

I did that. I picked it up on Amazon after looking in two Targets and two Best Buys, hoping to find the first movie in the series for five bucks instead of getting it for upwards of twenty. I watched it after I had Obloeron finalized, and then sketched out a few scenes and developed a backstory for my privateer, Paulina, her first mate and best friend Bettina Brewer, as well as Sally, Molly, and Onyx Wren. These will be characters to get to know, and I'll tell you about them as we draw closer to publication. I created a small town, Spicer's Bay, and after discussion with David, we settled on a location for it. Basically, it's a fictionalized version of the Caribbean--the Sea de Caribe--and the lands surrounding those warm, crystal blue waters.

Even with those notes, I found myself panicking a little as I wrote this first draft. Indecision and self-doubt clouded my process: Do I really know what I'm doing to write in a shared world? I asked myself. I wanted it to be a book worthy enough for David, an author I look up to in terms of professionalism and style of writing. I didn't want to write anything beneath David's standards. I then committed myself to delivering a solid tale, as usual, even though every moment spent on the laptop for this project grew wrought with fear regarding said delivery; there were days where the writing felt like I yanked away at my teeth as I tried to produce a stirring, as-near-to-perfect draft as possible. On most weekends, I allowed this story time to breathe as there were times where I didn't exactly know where I was going with it. With time and a few re-reads of the existing prose six weeks apart, I grew more confident in the story. I wrote upward of a thousand words a day, sometimes more, as I worked to bring this world alive to my dedicated readers and those who enjoy fantasy tales.

I hope I've done that over these last three and a half months. We'll see in June, as it goes on the shelf until then. There is still more work to do, and I'll need the time away from it, as I always do, to remove my mind from it before I tackle changes and strengthening.

So there you have it: The Peg-Legged Privateer is a first draft, a first draft of which I am proud to have written, and with the first draft's completion it means I have pretty much finalized my 2016 publishing schedule. Time to get started on 2017's schedule.

It's looking to be a fun ride. Stay tuned.

www.seansweeneyauthor.com