And today I finally have. Hallelujah! It’s been a hell of a slog. I originally envisaged it as a short, simple story, something a bit easier after the three plus years I spent on Darklands. Well, here we are four years later and 40,000 words over budget…
The edit can wait for another day. Today I’m just happy with having reached a draught (certainly not a first draft, and definitely not the last) – but a draught which is of reasonable enough quality that I may manage to hand it over to a trusted ally for some constructive criticism. Or I may sit in my darkened room for another year with a red pen, crossing words out and putting slightly different words back in…
The main issue is that it’s too damned long, clocking in at a hefty 136,000 words. Darklands was 114,000, and I thought that was really a bit too long.
The draught I’ve just completed started out eight months ago with the lofty intention of trimming the manuscript by a quarter. Instead I added about 10,000 words
But I will persevere. I know roughly where I need to trim. I like the beginning, I like the end. The middle section sags and is all doughy and bleh. I need to whittle it down, and liven it up. As I say, a job for another day. Today I am so happy to have finally reached this milestone.
As a taster, here is the glossary I have just written, introducing characters from a variety of mythologies who either make an appearance or are referenced:
|Baba Yaga||A dreadful witch. She flies through the air in a pestle and mortar, and lives in a hut that stands on chicken’s legs.|
|Bacchus||The Roman god of wine and revelry.|
|Banshee||A female spirit in Celtic mythology, said to foretell death with a terrible wailing.|
|Czernoboch||A Slavic god with dual roles of death and rebirth.|
|Hecate||Greek goddess of witchcraft, poison and necromancy.|
|Leshy||The guardian of the forest. Fierce and wild; humans should be wary of him.|
|North Wind||A frequent character in many mythologies, particularly European ones – bluff, fierce and unpredictable.|
|Old Silenus||Companion of Bacchus, habitually drunken and riding on a donkey.|
|Orpheus||Renowned musician from Greek mythology whose music caused riots and hysteria.|
|Red Cross Knight||Saint George, as described battling with a dragon in Edmund Spenser’s epic poem of 1590, The Fairy Queen.|
|River Styx||In Greek mythology the river you must cross to reach the land of the dead.|
|Rusalka||In Slavic folklore a water spirit, much like a mermaid. Fierce and treacherous, their aim is to lure people to drown in their pools.|
Any of that particularly take your fancy? I know my sister is looking forward to reading about Leshy, Baba Yaga and the Rusalkas – they are after all the main mythological presence in a Slavic set story. But the story’s characters are well read and curious, and well aware of other folklore traditions.