My novel isn’t quite finished yet. In fact, I don’t think any work of art is ever “finished”. It gets abandoned when the creator has had enough, has other ideas pushing for attention and deems that the current one is good enough. Under The Black Sand isn’t quite there yet. Give it a few weeks, a month, and I will happily abandon this story and send it off on its journey.
Most debut novels are years in the making. After a few false starts, endless rewrites and self-doubt, they finally emerge. This one is no different.
I think my first attempt at novel writing was Life Is A Bitch, which I started writing in 1996. It was as bad as the title suggests. It mutated into Plastic and could have become something, but it wasn’t to be. Then it became The Box. Vastly different from the first version, but still it didn’t rock my boat enough to finish it.
Fast-forward to 2005. I wrote a script for a short film, The Small Hours. It was the first thing I’d written that became something more than bytes on a hard drive. After film school, I wrote and shot another short, Black Sand. The idea was born after watching Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. Not that it bares any resemblance, but the film ignited a spark when combined with a real-life event from years earlier.
I got in touch with my favorite novelist, William Kowalski. He read the screenplay, came up with a few suggestions and I implemented some of them. The short wasn’t the correct format for the story. It was too big, too complicated. I wrote a feature length screenplay based on the short, but by the time it was completed, the world economy had collapsed and nobody had money for me. And so I followed the advice of a friend and fellow filmmaker, Hjálmar Einarsson. I adapted the screenplay into a novel.
It all seems fairly straightforward, but if anyone ever got to read the first drafts, they would’t recognise the story. There is also the small matter of being demotivated. When you have 60.000 words in a document, things start to blur. I had no idea how far I was, where the story was and how to move forward. I was copy/pasting dialogue from the screenplay and it was all turning very uninspiring.
Until I came across Scrivener. It is a word processor for writers. I imported my scribblings into the program, split it into chapters and I saw the light again. I had already written eleven out of thirteen chapters. I saw where the different parts of the story were located, how some parts were too short and some dragged on. Scrivener took me by the hand and helped me finish the novel.
There are no shortcuts. I had to come up with the story myself, I had to write it myself and I will have to push it myself once it’s “done”. But I doubt that I would have been able to finish it without the help, feedback and support of countless people around me. Thank you to all that helped, inspired and supported the effort, those that I did and didn’t mention here.
This post, originally from 23 July 2012, was recreated on 6 January 2016, after my site got deleted as explained here.
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