The Lead Cloak is now available! Click through for links to find links to your favorite online bookstore.
This book was a long time coming.
For years I’d been tossing around an idea for a science fiction novel, but I never did anything with it. That was until April 24, 2011, the date I decided to sit down and start writing, just to see if there was something there.
How do I know the exact date?
Because I charted it.
That’s right, I charted my novel. Words on the Y Axis, Time on the X Axis. It’s probably the single nerdiest thing I’ve ever done. (My wife is shaking her head at that sentence).
(You can click the picture above to zoom in on the chart)
So when I get asked, “How did you write The Lead Cloak?,” instead of talking about research, or thinking about the future, or character planning, or all the other things authors usually talk about, I can just hold up this chart.
The truth is: writing a four hundred page novel is hard, and it takes a long time. It goes in fits and spurts, and often has to be fit into the nooks and crannies of life. In this case that meant writing my book around job changes, election campaigns, and a new daughter.
And yet, the novel kept growing, sometimes slowly but surely, and sometimes at a breakneck pace.
Interestingly, the chart itself helped me finish the book. At the end of each day of writing, I took the time to adjust the word count, even if it was only 26 words (as it was one very slow day). This was motivational for me—an easy trick to make me sit down at the computer. Sure, I wanted to finish the book. But I wanted the blue line on the chart to keep climbing too.
Below are some notes about the hills and plateaus that make up the novel.
The first day I wrote 1,934 words, and thought it was going well enough that five days later I’d tripled that to more than 6,000 words. In that initial writing spurt I was able to get 10,000 words out.
Things really slowed down going into the summer. I was running for election (I’m an elected park board commissioner in my hometown of Tacoma) and the campaign was exhausting. When I got home at night, I had energy for watching reruns of Deep Space Nine and not much more.
Eventually the election ended, and I started writing two or three pages a day. I was spurred not only because the campaign was over, but because my wife and I were now expecting our first child in the spring, and I wanted to finish the book before her arrival (I failed).
At this point, the book was more than a year old, but only half-done. To top it off, we had a newborn baby at home who woke us up at all hours of the night. Little did I know, that was going to be a boon to my writing. Getting up to do the 5:00 feedings with her, I found that some mornings I could put my daughter back to bed, get the coffee on, and write until she woke up again at seven. It was incredibly productive writing time.
Come summertime, I had finished the first two parts of the book and only had the ending left to write. So I took a break. It turned into a six month hiatus, during which time I wrote two other (much shorter) books.
After such a long time away, when I finally got back to the book, I attacked it. I wrote thousands and thousands of words between Christmas and New Year’s, and eventually finished the first draft of the book on Groundhog’s Day of 2013.
As usual, I didn’t touch it for a few months before starting the editing process, letting the draft rest for awhile so I could gain some perspective. When I came back to it, and began editing, I ended up adding to the story, filling in gaps that I’d left off, clarifying characters, and more. (In On Writing, Stephen King said that some writers delete material during the editing process, and some add material. I’m definitely someone who adds. The book gained a couple thousand words during the process, and it was a rare day that I ended with fewer words.)
Pretty much by this point, the book was locked and any changes were a word here or there as I made the last remaining edits. And so that’s where it stayed! 105,406 words.
If you missed it, the trailer is below, or check out HaveYouJumped.com for more information about the book!