Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Parallel Earth: Writing & Editing, Why Does It Take So Long?

What on Earth is taking so long? I mean, your just writing a novel right, just putting words down on paper. Once the story's told your all done...

Well, that's what many who don't write think. Most people I talk to suffer from the delusion that all you have to do is come up with a real cool idea and, well, just write it down. For all of you who think that writing a book is just letters on paper, let me inform you, you are sadly mistaken.

American Masterpiece
Did any of you know it took  Margaret Mitchell about 20 years to write  Gone with the Wind? Today, it is one of my most favorite reads. It's so epic in scope. The characters are so meticulously written they walk off the pages. And her writing style is impeccable, so easy to understand, I am always amazed.

 Now, to move on to another favorite of mine,  Dune by Frank Herbert. It took him Seven years (or there about) to create the world of Dune. Within the pages of Dune we come to know of an entire worlds, each of which posses their own governments, systems of belief, and mythologies, as well as technology. I can attest, this is no easy feat to achieve such imagination. To connect the dots so it can be understood by a broad and accepting audience is the first objective. But, to date, it the most popular Sci-Fi novel and series in the history of the genre.

Sci-Fi Master
Ok, now this brings me to the King-Puba of them all, J.R.R.Tolkien creator of The Lord of the Rings. Did any of you know it took him about forty years just to write the languages for Middle Earth? Forty Years! Then he wrote the  The Hobbit for his son. Asked to do a sequel to the Hobbit, he embarked on the epic journey of writing the Lord of the Rings. It took him twelve years to write the Lord of the Rings, using stories, his Mythology, dating back to his days in the trenches of World War One, with hand-scribbled notes dating back to 1918. He created most of Middle Earth while many of his friends were dying around him daily; it became his way of passing the time and remaining sane.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Grand Master Wizard of Fantasy

So now, this brings me to Parallel Earth. If you've read any of my older posts, you know I've been working on this project now for almost thirteen years. I started it when I was 25 years old. This March, I will be 38. Why has it taken so long? It's a hell of an epic...

I have had to create everything for Parallel Earth from the ground up. Once I realized what I was actually trying to achieve, I had to do a bit more research, studying, etc, etc. As I began to write the back-story I had to make sure all of the principle ideologies and systems of belief could be interpreted and understood by a wide audience. Also, now being seven Novel's long, I had to make sure that everything begins with the first story.... everything! And let me tell you, that's a whole lot-a-stuff. I mean, how do you go from one culture to at least five subcultures? Even though I know the back-story, it was an entire other challenge to put these ideas into motion through character interaction and relationships.

Another large part of the Novel has to due with philosophical and religious ideas that have to translate today as well as speak along the lines of ancient archetypal principles that service a specific link our spiritual heritage as humanity. Within each culture, I have had to develop a social order as well, and how that social order effects the characters and their situations. How, where, and why their thoughts emerged out of the ancient principle concepts of their culture? Well, in order to write them, you must know the culture, know their personality, and the real challenge is to know how they work in the over-all scope of all Seven Novels. This is no easy task.

Still once all of this is complete, and the first novel is written, then I have to go in a chop away the fat. Yes, I explain it like this: If I am looking at patch of woods and want to build a road, I must first understand the lay of the land so I can plot the best coarse to create this Road (This is the initial concept).

Ok, looking at the woods, I now have to start taring out the trees and remove any large trees and boulders in my way. Now I'm left with a very crude path from point A to point B. I know where I begin and where I end, but the path is still treacherous (This is the first Draft, which took three years to write).

My Drawing of the Holy Doctrine within Parallel Earth
With a cleared path before me, my new proposed road, it now becomes time to go in and remove any large debris such as stumps, stones, and begin to level the ground (This is the first edit, which I am in the process of currently; it's taken about a year).

Alright, the stumps are gone, the ground is almost level, now it comes time to scrape the road to perfection and lay down the gravel (This is the second edit, where you really begin to cut away the fat, refine you characters and concepts).

After that's all said and done, I can go over the manuscript with much more speed and detect inconsistencies, redundancies, and continuity of character arcs and sub plots, all of which must service the end result, being the climax. And in my world, the climax must serve the advancement and further continuation of the series.

Still, once I've completed the manuscript and it's been taken on by an Literary Agent, further refinement will take place. When it reaches an Acquisitions Editor, the manuscript will again be subject to further discretion and editing to create the strongest possible work.

Once the road is complete, it's a sign that the journey has just begun. Every new bend will require a unique set of tools to service the landscape. Every new landscape will rise as a natural extension of the previous road travelled, until, in the end I (we together) will have reached the top. Hopefully, when we get there, we will be inspired to take the journey again. After all, good books, like good movies, are worth reading more than once.

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