The Final Countdown: Personal Thoughts on Reaching the End

Today’s entry is going to be a little more personal for me.  I expect to have the first draft of the rewrite of Corridors of the Dead done by the end of this week, and as I dictate this I just finished off the last few sentences before the giant climax where all is laid bare, and I guess rather than having any coherent goal for this post, I wanted to talk some about my feelings of reaching the end.

It seems a lot more eventful than when I finished the last time, I guess because when I finished then I knew there was still a great deal of rework to be done.  This one I think is going to have  fairly minimal rework.  I could be wrong about that, but somehow I don’t think so, and now that I’m near the end I feel, well, exhausted.  It kind of just took over and has pushed itself straight through ever since Matty really manifested herself in my head.  I think it took about two and a half months, something like that, to rewrite it, which when compared to my old writing schedule is an extraordinarily fast time.

The first version of this novel took about four or five months, while this one just came straight out of me, and it’s looking like the next book will be similar.  Being prolific feels really good, but it’s also pretty tiring.  Now I look back and I wonder about things I could have done differently, but I’m not sure there’s much I really would have done differently.  This is the first time I’ve ever felt like the writing process is really clicking for me, which is probably why everything went so fast.

I do feel a pang of loss though.  Unfortunately, while the series goes on, the second book is from another character’s point of view, so this will probably be the last time I write from Matty’s point of view.  I’m going to miss her. I’ve really come to like and admire her, and I think that has something to do with the exhaustion I’m feeling.  So yeah, there’s sadness at moving on from that world and moving on from her, but I think the interesting thing is I know that eventually I am going to come back to it, maybe as soon as early next year.  I think the sequel will come right after the one that I’m planning right now so that I don’t lose some of the momentum of the ideas that I have going on.  Still, I know that it’s the last time that I’ll see this world that I’ve created in this configuration.  Things change quite a bit in the second book, but the sting is lessened a bit when I know that I’ll see some pretty exciting things in the second book.

One of my greatest regrets is that I wish I could have done more with Kristy.  She’s a really interesting, compelling character, but unfortunately given her relation to Matty, her overall role in the plot makes sense to the story, but I really wish I could have done more with her.  I think it will make more sense once you read the book, but Kristy is Matty’s lover, and whereas Matty is kind of a down-to‑earth punk girl who has always been kind of…gritty’s not the word I’d want to use, but has always been kind of down in the muck even when she was born out of privilege, Kristy comes across as this air headed Southern California valley girl, but she’s actually very smart. It was fun to show her being an annoying character up front then revealing that there’s a lot more to her than you think. I like that sort of character, and I just wish I could have done more with her, but she also couldn’t really carry a story on her own anyway.

One of the greatest surprises was probably Daniel’s role in the story.  In the original version Daniel had pretty much the same role as Matty’s protector, but he  betrayed her.  In this one he is – well I hesitate to say protector because Matty is really capable of taking care of herself on her own – he helps to point her in the right direction in quite a few places.  He’s kind of like a mentor  and provides a nice counter balance to the outward forces that are a lot more powerful than her. He is kind of the acknowledgement of the positive side of those powers looking out for her.  I would say almost like Obi‑Wan Kenobi were he were actually able to fight alongside Luke Skywalker for a time.

Delilah was also a really big surprise.  In the original book she only appeared in the first chapter and was killed off pretty quickly.  In this one, however, her role is greatly expanded and merged with that of another character.  She becomes the antagonist for most of the book.  She was another interesting character that starts out as seeming kind of wholesome and very quickly you start to see this nasty underbelly to her.  That wasn’t originally how I planned to write her at all; she was going to be a good character, but she just kept getting meaner and meaner as the story went along, and I kind of with it. I think she might actually be one of the more memorable characters because my fiancée kind of loves to hate her.

I’m also really fond of the secondary antagonist, the one who’s going to become more important in the second book.  In the original book he was kind of a blend of Sean Connery and Christopher Lee, but in this one he’s more David Bowie meets Tim Curry, very over the top, and I definitely prefer that version of the character.  The only problem with him is that a little goes a long way because he chews the hell out of the scenery.

Biggest overall discovery has to be what can happen when you let the characters take the reins and kind of fudge the plotting where you need to.  The characters transformed it into an entirely different story only based on the skeleton of the original story.  It was quite a pleasant surprise, and I’m pretty happy with the overall results.  Whereas I had some doubts even up until the very last draft of the first version, on this one, I don’t really have any doubts.  I’m certainly willing to let it out there and be judged by the court of public opinion.  I’m even willing to let some people read the first draft of this one.  That’s unprecedented for me.  I know there are errors in there, and I know there are things that are going to be need some correction, but overall I think the story is strong enough that those things shouldn’t be a problem for a beta reader.

Overall I just feel this book really is the first time where I can see what I’m learning coalescing into one thing, and it excites me about what I’m going to be able to accomplish going forward, as well as what my next book will look like and the book after that, because it’s just such an organic evolution that’s going on inside me.  You know, hopefully I get to book four or five and really see where things go, but for now, I feel pretty satisfied.

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