This is the first NIAA progress report. NIAA, or Nothing is an Accident is a mystery/thriller novel I finished about two years ago and have been going through a number of edits since then. At the moment I’m looking at doing two more edits: a thorough one with feedback from the Unwritten Writing Group, as well as my own notes; and then one quick last one which’ll be it. Then it will be time to start sending it out. I’m shooting to hopefully have this all done by summer or at the latest by the end of the year.
Now that I have White Horse well on its way, and Wyrd outlined and up and running, it was time to come back to the last few run-through with NIAA.
Today made some good progress, getting the two first chapters down and done to a place where I’m happy with them. Notes from the group and my own are helping to iron out that last details and confusing parts so it’s finished and complete. Still got quite a ways to go, but the penultimate edit is in full swing.
It was a dark and stormy night: the wind was howling; the rain crashing down; the lightning turning dark holes and hideaways to brightly lit places. I sat alone at my rickety old desk, scribing away on parchment, recounting my thoughts and memories to paper; whereupon there was a mighty boom just outside my door. Fear crept upon me, making my limbs quiver, but I plucked up my courage, pulled on my burly coat, and went to my door, preparing for the onslaught of wind and rain. The old oak creaked open with a mighty sound, and there upon my doorstep was a shroud-wrapped package. I ducked down and grabbed, slamming the door before any of the rain could enter my abode, or anything else that might be lurking out there. Slowly, I unwrapped the package for I knew it was a truly remarkable gift.
The cover of the mighty tome was revealed to me: Wise Man’s Fear, Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day Two; weighing in at over 1100 pages.
It was a truly welcome delivery.
It was interesting to discover that Nancy Pearl and I have something in common: we both know when to quit on a book. In a recent article she wrote for The Globe and Mail, Pearl discussed her “Rule of 50,” which is one she has always employed when reading a book. It is essentially that when she gets to page 50 she stops and decides whether she is still enjoying the book or not: if she is, she keeps reading; if she isn’t, she stops and gives up on the book and goes on to another.
I’ve developed pretty much the same rule over my years of reading and reviewing books. It didn’t take me long to realize, and each year this “philosophy” is confirmed all the more: there are simply too many books in this world that I want to read, and more of them being published each and every month; also it’s not going to stop. So over the years I’ve developed my own rule for starting a book: I’ll give it fifty pages to hook me and make me interested; if I’m not engrossed by that fiftieth page, I’ve got plenty more books to read, and in my opinion the author didn’t do their job, at least for what I was hoping to get out of the book. Sometimes, if I’m mildly interested, I’ll give it a hundred pages and then decide.
I believe this is definitely a good practice to acquire and use when reading, and I encourage others to do it. That way you’ll be wasting less time on reading something you’re not enjoying — just like wasting time on something else you don’t enjoy and don’t have to keep doing — and spending lots more time on reading books you want to read, and perhaps feel a little less like all this reading is hopeless, as you’ll never get to read everything you want. This way at least, you stand a shot at it.