A few weeks ago I came up with some tangible goals for those ten (how'd it get to ten?!) novels I've got in various states of...undress, for want of a better word. It requires motivation on my part, which I've currently got in spades, and sticking to a fairly rigorous schedule.
December's plan is to write the second draft of 'Max'. I'd been trundling along quite nicely with it, although I was still running behind schedule (but since I'm planning on working Christmas morning and possibly evening, I doubt it matters). However, the other night I realised that the chapter plan I'd sketched out back in September was failing me. The first half was fine but one character has evolved to the point where my initial plan doesn't work any more. This is a pretty good example of character development kicking a writer in the shins but I'm not complaining too much. The fact that I had to stop and think is evidence that the pieces of this novel are falling into place and that can only be a good thing.
Of course, I wasn't so congenial about it yesterday. Actually, I was really angry because I still wanted to stick to my December rewrite strategy. Fortunately, I had to do a Sheffield trip for a supervisor meeting and, in a bid to distract myself, I focused my mind on fixing the problem. A new end-point flashed upon me, making perfect sense, and I spent the rest of the day working back from there. The chapter plan is rough and needs some depth but the sequence and development works.
I'm wondering, though, if this issue is symptomatic of something else. You see, this novel wasn't going to have a happy ending. It was about pain and realising something wasn't meant to be (sort of fitting considering my mental state when I wrote the second draft plan). However, that just didn't work. Way back in 2010, I wrote a post called 'So Much For My Unhappy Ending' about one of my other projects (which has since been through a metamorphosis of its own). After planning a dismal ending, I couldn't follow through on it. Is it just that I don't want to make my characters miserable? I don't know. But if a happy ending is remotely possible, doesn't everyone, fictional or otherwise, deserve a crack at it?
The current state of my WIP is 33,704 words and my projection calculator has me completing the draft on the 7th January. Now that I have my new plan, maybe I can get back on track.