Tuesday, 10 June 2014

To End All Wars: The End of the Beginning

There was something strangely anticlimactic about finishing To End All Wars.

A week (and a wonderfully relaxing week off in the Cotswolds) on, I'm still not sure whether that should have been the case.  It's hard to say that finishing your fifth full novel*, or for that matter your first science fiction novel, or even your first heavily researched historical novel, should be anything other than climatic.  You might even expect it to be one of the most climatic things you could hope to do.

But research aside, it took me five mostly quite pleasant months to write, and when you're used to novel writing being a more traumatic, gut-wrenching experience, that's just very hard to get your head around.  To put it in perspective, the first draft of Giant Thief took me over two years, and while the first drafts of Crown Thief and Prince Thief took a mere six months each, they were six months of pain and borderline terror and thinking I'd never, ever make my deadline - whereas TEAW, by comparison, was pretty much a breeze.  Except for a slight hiccup with the final chapter, which necessitated a last minute wave of extra research, (and let's face it, final chapters aren't supposed to come easily), I never strayed far from the timescale I set down at the start of the year, and even ended up finishing a day early.

It also might just be the best novel I've written.  I'm pretty sure it is.  There are some issues, there are always issues, but I'm pleased with it, and given that To End All Wars was a whole order of magnitude more ambitious than anything I've tried before, that's more than I had any right to expect.  I'm hopeful that, a couple of drafts down the road, it will be something exciting, and also something unique.  When your influences range from The Prisoner to Rogue Male to Regeneration, surely the end result has to be a little unique?

So anticlimactic, it turns out, may not be such a bad thing after all.  If anticlimactic means minimal stress, no last-minute panicking and things working out about how you'd hoped they would then, hey, I'm happy if everything I do from hereon is this much of an anticlimax.

And now I realise, belatedly, that I've done yet another To End All Wars post without talking even slightly about what it's actually about.  Well, maybe next time, when I finish the second draft come November time.  And maybe that time I'll finally break out the champagne too.

* Or possibly fourth, depending where you place War For Funland, currently being radically overhauled as The Novel Formerly Known as War For Funland.

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