After six months, I’ve finally finished the first draft of Songs of my Mother! For some reason, the following song is the first thing that popped into my head upon completion.
The wordcount ended up being just shy of 300,000 words, though this will expand at least a bit–if not a lot–over that when I edit/rewrite. Well, here’s the total wordcount and pagecount.
This has been quite an ordeal for me, as people who come to this site well know. But now the hardest part is over. What comes next is adding in scenes I didn’t know I needed, rewriting scenes that may not have turned out the way they should have, and just general editing.
Luckily, the first 120,000 words are more or less in final draft form. Or at least finalish form. So are most of the chapters that take place in the present. So the bulk of the work will be in the rest, which is probably like 150,000 words. Still a lot, mind, but a lot less than 300,000 words.
At this point, it’s probably time to write some kind of a synopsis or whatever.
The novel takes place in the same world and on the same continent as Twilight of the Wolves, though it takes place several centuries before that, so there’s no overlap. The bulk of the novel takes place in a single village deep in the forest that covers most of the continent and it deals with life there. It’s about culture, life, and relationships, really. What it means to be a member of this village and how this village changes when one of its people becomes a god.
Luna is a child. Her mother and fathers are outcasts in their clan and the first section of the novel is, in many ways, a family drama. What it means to be an outcast, what it means to watch your society not accept you because of the decision your parents made before you were born. More than that, it’s about what it means to be a family. What kind of love exists between men and women, between parent and child. How we try to protect our children from our mistakes and how our children are far more perceptive than we believe they are.
Then a dragon comes to the village and Luna’s mother kills it. This is really the pivot of the novel, and everything spirals out from there. In killing the dragon, she becomes a god to her own people and the rest of the novel deals with this event.
It’s sociological fantasy, in the vein of Ursula K Le Guin or Samuel R Delany’s Neveryona series. The novel deals with mythology, philosophy, art, culture, love, sexuality, social conventions and structures, mysticism, pacifism, violence, apotheosis, deicide, suicide, motherhood, childhood, love, death, and what it means to be a person, what it means to be alive.
There are characters who are gods who have lived for thousands of years and characters who become gods while still too young to understand what that means. There are tragedies, moments of humor, violence, and the grotesque.
Basically, there’s a bit of everything. All my various obsessions–including cooking–find a place in the novel. But I think, at the heart, it’s about a few things.
The impetus for much of this was the disorienting sensation of being confronted by power so much greater than what you can conceive. And then being forced to accept that power and live under its shadow.
But the novel really finds a heart in the relationships between people. People children and parents, between lovers, between friends, and how power can turn these people into opposition.
I’ve written some of my favorite scenes in this novel. Also some of my darkest and maybe some of my funniest. It’s an emotional journey, and it lasts Luna’s whole life.
We begin when she’s just a child, but we end with her thousands of miles away, much older and after much loss.
It’s a novel in five main parts. There is a throughline that takes place in the present (Prelude, Interludes, Postlude), where Luna tells a person the story of her life. The story of her life happens over the course of four distinct sections (Dragonslayer, Savior, Goddess, Forest) that are broken up by scenes in the present. It looks like the picture on the left.
Despite the majority of the novel happening in the past, quite a bit of narrative movement happens in the present. It’s something I was uncertain about at first, this framing of the narrative, and I planned on abandoning it if it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to.
Like, I didn’t want it to just be a story in the present and a story in the past. I wanted an interaction between the past and present that would make the narrative twist and bend into surprising directions, both for me and the reader.
I think I succeeded. I’m very happy with how it came out, anyway.
But, yes, I’m immensely proud of it and it’s taken me half the year to get it all written down. I’ve talked about the process a few times in recent months, so I won’t go through it again. But it hasn’t been easy! This is the longest I’ve ever worked on…anything. Not just a novel, but any single project.
And though it’s not ready for the eyes of the world, it will be soon. Hopefully sooner than later. But definitely by the end of November.
With that in mind, now’s the time to let me know if you want to be a beta reader! I’ll be reaching out to certain people, but I’m really looking for various eyes on this. I’ve never written anything even close to this long so I have all sorts of fears and concerns about pacing and structure.
But, yeah, reach out and let me know if you’d want to take a look at this monster.
I’ll be celebrating for tonight and probably the rest of the weekend, then probably taking next week off. But come November, I’ll be wearing my editor hat and trying to make this novel shine the way it should.