I’ve passed 70,000 words of my current pass at Slipwater, and I’m now at the point where most of what remains is going to have to be completely rewritten. Actually, I should be honest: it’s all going to have to be rewritten. Why? Because…
Although I have messed around with the first two thirds of the story many times over the years – and I’m very happy with where it is now – the final stretch was only ever done once. In 1997. Well, I didn’t know anything in 1997. Hell, I was still a virgin in 1997. But more appropriately, some of the stuff I wrote was terrible in 1997. Okay, yes, some of the stuff I write in 2017 isn’t much better, but baby steps.
However, there are a couple of encouraging lights in the darkness. Firstly, I have an outline and a very good idea of where the story heads from this point onwards. And secondly, the novel is probably going to top out at just shy of 90,000 words, so there isn’t too much further to go.
Oh, and thirdly, this time I’m not stopping until:
Twenty years ago I completed a draft of Slipwater – the only novel I have ever written. Let that sink in for a moment. Twenty. Years. Ago. My novel is legally old enough to buy a drink!
In 1997 Slipwater was an extremely complicated idea in my head, which is at least part of the reason that the first draft – which clocks in at 88,000 words – probably runs out of steam towards the end. Or at least, I did. I just wanted to get it finished. At twenty-one years old I didn’t have the necessary life experience to tackle a lot of the themes I was getting into, so it was rushed.
In the decades since then I have told myself I am going to get back to it one day, and I’ve meant it every time. Over the years I have gone back to it… off and on. I even got so far as to redraft about 70% of the novel, but for some reason or other, I have always let it slip.
Between the years of 2005 and 2011 I sent it off to several publishers. Some wanted the first few chapters; others the first ten pages. One of these places did actually then request to see the whole manuscript, which put me in a bit of a pickle because it was at a time when I didn’t have a complete draft from start to finish. C’est la vie.
Anyway, the point is – I’m getting back on the horse again.
What’s Slipwater about? Oh, a lot of things. It’s a police thriller about the bond of marriage, and of friendship, and how a personal tragedy affects both of those things. It’s about a serial killer and second chances.It’s about the drive-through town of Slipwater and the strange secret it possesses.
But mostly… it’s about damn time I finished it.