As noted below, I reached the end of The Kevodran manuscript with version 1.70 on Friday, September 16th. Now that the first draft is finished the question of, “What’s next?” must be addressed.

The manuscript is far from ready to put to bed, or retire under-the-bed for that matter. In fact, save for the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, I think the rest of the school year will be dedicated to developing and polishing The Kevodran, at least until summer arrives. At that time, I hope to return to November’s efforts and pursue The Three Moon Maidens.

This plan may be problematic as we will most likely be moving from my beloved Iona Cein, my beautiful home, library and back yard retreat, to some godforsaken rental having let the house “go back to the bank” as they say. It is definitely not something I want to do, but life is what happens when you wish it wasn’t. If the drama of it all interrupts my fiction’s muse and writing practice, I’ll make the best of it and compile a set of notes and journals concerning the loss and the emotional toll of leaving a place beloved, the humiliation of foreclosure, the symbolic and spiritual meaning of home, the dehumanizing aspect of the situation, and the fear of ‘starting over’ at 50 knowing that I most likely won’t live long enough to have a home of my own again. This, I believe, might provide some wonderful raw material for a small manuscript of poems and prose vignettes on the subject I’ve been considering in the back of my mind for some time now.

If I can, however, I’d like to keep the momentum going with the The Kevodran, despite my present lack of publication ambition. I have learned so much during the writing of this first draft. I’m sure the next stages of additions, re-writes and revision cannot help but teach me more about my practice and the craft. Who knows what amazing things I might discover over the next nine months?

My present plan involves a set of revisions. Each will focus on a major addition or re-write.

The Kevodran 2.0 would be a cleaned up version of the story and arguably the most critical of the versions as I plan to go through the manuscript and create a detailed plot outline from it. Though I, of course, had an outline to guide me during the initial writing, the organic nature of composing a novel-length manuscript took the story in unexpected directions. I need those surprise paths recorded and mapped out. A companion document dedicated to such an outline would help immensely as I try to see my plot line clearly.

I also plan to address all the “Notes”  placed in the manuscript reminding myself of this needed addition or that important clarification. I hope that by doing so the manuscript will smooth out a bit and add a sense of euphony and continuity to the whole.

Once that is done, 2.0 will be complete.

The Kevodran 3.0 will focus on adding the character Orrja’s story to the plot. Heather’s Chapter After Chapter section “Braids” put a bee in my bonnet concerning the importance of giving a story depth and interest via additional POVs or story lines. In the beginning, Orrja was a rather flat and static supporting character. As the story progressed however, in one of the unexpected developments mentioned above, she became extremely important and almost a main protagonist herself.

I hope that having explored the main events of the plot in The Kevodran 1.0, weaving in Orrja’s story will be less problematic. That being said, I have no doubts the story will be pulled in many new, strange and wonderful directions that may then require their own serious revisions.

The Kevodran 4.0 will add a third strand to the braid with the addition of Selt’s back-story and his point-of-view. As this will be an exploration and less of a sure thing than Orrja’s tale, I will have to be very careful the story does not take off in a new direction. Selt has ever been the main character’s side kick, but he is his own character with equally as strong motivations. I could easily imagine his time with the demon Golden August being an amazing story on its own. If not the subject of a full length manuscript then at least a short story’s worth of material. I’m open to additional revelation, but I don’t want The Kevodran side tracked too far.

The next version, 5.0 will involve a process similar to that of 2.0 with a smoothing of the manuscript and a nudging it into shape before the true rewrite effort begins. In my mind this will produce a truly finished first draft with all parts present, all ideas added, all twists and turns completed, something I can take a proverbial editing hatchet to in the next incarnation.

The Kevodran 6.0 will then be the true revision. I would like this version to end up being not only smoothed out, but trimmed down by quite a few words and given a serious critique. I will give this version over to all the self-editing and revision skills I have in a ruthless appraisal. Everything undergoing an honest evaluation. If something doesn’t further the story along, it will be chopped. The remainder will again be re-aligned, smoothed out and evaluated for euphony and continuity.

7.0 will be the “Reader’s Version.” This is the one I will offer to a Writer’s Group, a Writing Conference One-on-One session or Reader critique for comments. The observations and suggestions offered by those readers will be evaluated and either disregarded or employed as their merit indicates. This will, of course, lead to an 8.0 version which would be the next “Reader’s Version” and thus begin a cycle of refining rewrites.

Somewhere down the road, if the manuscript really even makes it that far and hasn’t long before been put to rest beneath the bed, it will be as ready as it can be for professional rejection. Will that be 9.0 or 12.0 or 20.0? Who knows? Regardless, by that time, I’ll have my intro chapters and a detailed outline ready, probably a polished query and all the other silliness required for publishers to sniff over the carcass. I’ll then send it out into the world and see what happens.

After that, of course, if there is any interest in the tome at all, there will be other revisions as various professionals in the world of modern literary publication all have their crack at the manuscript.

Again, this doesn’t daunt me. I’m sure at such a time, I’ll feel like any other writer: eager, anxious, disappointed, elated, rejected, harassed, etc., etc. But really, as Beowulf said, “Fate goes ever as it must.” In other words, what is going to happen is going to happen…or not.

In the mean time, I’ll be working on my next manuscript which, I have no doubt, will also end up like the first: in a place of honor under my bed. Still, I look forward to the ride and all I will learn in the effort. Hopefully, as a result, each manuscript will be better than the last.

In truth, what really matters is that I write and there is so much of it to do, most of it having little to do with editors, agents and publishers and everything to do with pursuing my passion

Originally posted in The Salamander’s Quill 1.0 now deleted.