I’m expecting to finish the first draft of book two The Index of Lost Colours this week, four weeks after starting it. I make no claim to having achieved anything extraordinary – what I had was a window of time, when book one was being copy-edited, which it would have been foolish to have lost. I was lucky in that the story pretty much arrived in my head and have been propelled by a real urgency to get it down in case the whole thing evaporated.
A month’s writing – not a gargantuan task in the end. But I made myself sit down, every day, weekends and evenings included, and write. Work, then.
The first draft has come up short. Well, in fact, it will be the length I expected. I am not stressing about it (perhaps stressing about what my agent might think). I’ve read many good short novels, and want to plant this second book firmly among them.
But when a friend says, ‘Oh, you’ve written a novella!’ I answer somewhat defensively, ‘No, I’ve written a short novel.’ Although this work is shorter, I’m not happy with the term novella. It suggests something less than a novel, something tending towards a short story.
As I see it, I have written a short novel and it was something I set out consciously to do. Writing shorter was something the story required, which is as much about what is not written as what is and allowing space for the reader to think. As such, it has no less heft than lengthier works.
It’s a short novel. That’s my reasoning and I’m sticking to it.