Once Upon a Dream – Book Two First Draft Complete

Once Upon a Dream – Book Two First Draft Complete

I forgot how much I hate moving. There was a time we seemed to move every other year and I got used to it. In fact, I was eager for our last move. It brought us back to Canada from England – back to the familiar and easy to navigate. I had checklists and backup plans to cover every possible outcome.

But we spent five years in our last house and I forgot the tribulations of getting from one place to another. I probably blocked them out of my memory.

You’re never going to meet a person who tells you they love moving. That was what everyone agreed the day we pulled the furniture out of our old house in the pouring rain and shoved it into our new house to rearrange later.

Anyone who follows my blog knows we’ve been trying to find a new house for over a year. I haven’t written much about it, mostly because I got nervous while we were in process. I didn’t want to get my hopes up only to have them crash.

To say the process has been trying would be an understatement. There have been downright overwhelming days. And while the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight as I write this, we’re not there yet. There are still a lot of questions to answer as well as boxes to unpack.

And in the midst of all this madness, I somehow managed to write the second book of Once Upon a Dream.

Time was the biggest factor

When I wrote the first book in this series (at the time titled A Garden of Silver), my biggest issue was pacing. I devoted a lot of my last project report to those problems.

For the second book (now tentatively titled Key of All Doors), my biggest problem was finding time to work on it.

I started book 2 of Once Upon a Dream on September 23rd. At the time, we had just removed conditions on the sale of our new house. The plan was for us to start organizing the move while we finished the last bit of paperwork. But due to a lot of unforeseen difficulties that were out of our hands, that didn’t happen. In fact, it was a struggle just to keep up with our day to day given how many other issues cropped up.

We started a lot of days hopeful and ended them exhausted. You might wonder what this has to do with writing a book but, as I’ve mentioned before, writing uses a great deal of emotional and creative energy. And everyone has a limited energy pool at their disposal. I can’t count the number of times I had to interrupt a scene to deal with a sudden potential crisis. And every time you stop in the middle of a scene to focus on something else, it takes time to get back into the creative zone.

Time I didn’t have to spare in the first place.

While this was going on, we were also trying to sell our house. Which meant I constantly had to pop out for viewings. Which meant even more rearrangement of my schedule. I spent a lot of time writing blog posts at the local coffee shop.

Only the habits I created saved me

Looking back over the notes in my planner, it’s a wonder I ever found time to write at all. But I did. Part of it was that I defended my writing time to the best of my ability. My husband is ultra supportive of my work, so he helped me do that as much as he could. Part of it is that I’ve learned to be flexible, which allowed me to slide my writing blocks as necessary to accommodate viewings, especially if I knew about them in advance.

But a big part of what allowed me to write this book was habitual discipline. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years adjusting my work habits. I have a small established ritual for entering the work frame of mind. Usually it involves a hot beverage and some atmospheric noise or music. Once I’m sitting down with a steaming mug and my headphones on, my brain knows what to do.

Sometimes the words come haltingly in fits and starts. When I’m anxious, I find it hard to settle. There were a lot of times I paused to check my email or my phone when I probably shouldn’t have. But there were days I was neck deep in what felt like a shithole, and somehow managed to crank out a few thousand words in record time.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from all this madness is that creative productivity is never magical. I spent years training myself to write when an opportunity presented itself. I spent years learning to carve those opportunities out of a hectic schedule. And writing has become such a habit to me that, when presented with certain conditions, my fingers just go to work.

It’s done; that’s what matters

Was it easy? No. There were days it was terribly difficult to get my head off of financial or logistical concerns. And one of my biggest worries is that some of the scenes I’ve written have suffered as a result. But there are scenes in this novel that I’ve been planning for a decade that I’m thrilled with how they turned out. Not every writing day is a good one. You don’t knock every scene out of the park. I’ve learned to live with that.

At the very least, the first draft is done. And that’s really the only purpose first drafts serve. As everyone says, it’s easier to fix a crap scene than a non-existent one.

I’m fortunate that the plot structure of the second book felt a lot more solid than the first book. Perhaps it’s because I settled into my groove. It may also have been that several unexpected changes in the first book made it easier to integrate subplots into the second book. Places where I expected to need new characters and new plot threads worked better because I could draw on threads already woven into my tapestry.

Of course there are odd scenes that I wrote knowing full well they might need to be cut. And a few details that didn’t make it in because I wasn’t sure they were entirely necessary. But that’s pretty typical of any first draft.

Perhaps the most exciting thing is that I finally came up with a naming scheme for the series and changed all the titles.

The future is still bright.

It might seem like I haven’t said a lot about writing for a post that’s supposed to be a project update. The truth is, I’m pretty happy with most of the actual writing portion of book 2. It was getting it on paper that proved difficult.

Middles are usually the hardest part for me, so I’m pleasantly surprised the content and flow worked as well as they did.

I finished Key of All Doors on November 11th, which made it about a third of my NaNoWriMo activity this year. Two days after that, I spent the entire day painting our new house. The day after that, I started book 3 of Once Upon a Dream. The day after that, I was up till midnight packing the rest of our house. And the day after that, we moved.

They say that life is what happens while you’re making other plans. 2019 has certainly felt that way. I really hope our lives settle down soon. But I’m also grateful I was able to keep working through the madness. I don’t know what the next few months will bring, but I’m confident it’ll all be worth it in the end.

I would be remiss if I didn’t end this post with a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who helped us through this process. So many friends showed up to help with renovations and moving that I’m blown away by the kindness and generosity shared with us. And an extra special thank you goes to my mother and father in-law, without whom none of the things I mentioned in this post would have been remotely possible.

See you all on the flip side!

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