On Finishing White Feather’s 2nd Draft

It’s really hard to compile my thoughts for this but I need to write it down so here goes.

Earlier today, after months of work, I finally  finished the second draft of White Feather. If you don’t know, that is the title of a novel I started last year during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I realized after about 3 weeks that I had a good story, and I knew that unlike my previous win in 2014 I wanted to continue on the journey of crafting it into a piece of writing that I would proud of. (Banners of Sand was a complete disaster that I refuse to look at myself, but hey it taught me about writing novels).

White Feather is historical fiction, set in England during the First World War. Its title comes from one of the focuses of the story, which is the White Feather brigade and its implications on boys who either did not – or could not – join the war.

After speeding through the 1st draft I thought it would be an easy chapter-by-chapter edit to completion…

…then I realized the story needed work (like major work. I overhauled the entire final 2/3rds of it when I had an idea for a better conclusion that fit the theme better.)

… then I realized that I wanted to give present tense a shot. (Thanks Mr. Doerr).

…then I realized late in the process that a character I thought was vital had no implications to the story at all, and I needed to cut him and rework some of the other chapters because of it.

I never expected the 2nd draft to take so much out of me. It wasn’t an easy task as a writer.

Coupled with that, White Feather has seen me through what has been beyond a shadow of a doubt the worst day of my life thus far. I will not go into details. The novel, at times, became less of a creative project and more of something that mocked me every other day.

It sapped all my creativity. I spent two months with a vicious writer’s block. The things I tried to write were stale and unimaginative. Everything sort of spiraled out of my control. As I lost valuable friends I realized one evening that I had no desire to write.

Then I decided that I needed to get my passion back.

In April and May, I forced my way out of the hole I dug myself into and devoted my time to a stageplay titled ONE SMALL STEP. A month and a half later, and one project done and under my belt, I knew that I was gonna have to tackle this beast eventually. White Feather was still there, clogging up space on Scrivener, with chapters cluttering my desktop.

ONE SMALL STEP is a project that in the end I am proud of, but it served the purpose of getting me inspired enough to finish the bigger project at hand. I finally pulled White Feather up and started writing again.

And now, it’s complete. Done. The second draft, at least. The hurdle in my way I passed tonight, and honestly in terms of being a writer, I have never been happier. There is still work to do: I have to listen to each chapter audibly to catch problems with rhythm and grammar,  I want to send it to friends to get feedback (which I find to be worth its figurative weight in gold in editing.), and I still have a few more things to expand, but all in all, I am truly happy with the story.

Soon enough I’ll be able to move on to even bigger things, and while I can’t wait for that day, I think I owe it both to myself and this project that I spend some time to reflect on it and the progression of my life since I wrote the first chapter almost a year ago. That first chapter with Kip Ellery waiting to see if his brother wrote is something I still remember writing. It’s been a long time coming, but I refuse to give up now.


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