It's a cliche, but it's true. Put your kids in the car, hit the highway and sometime during the course of the trip, usually within the first 10 minutes if they're my kids – smart alecks all – they'll start chanting, "Are we there yet?"
(Tori and I adopted a defensive measure. Whenever they asked "Are we there yet," no matter where we were on the journey, we'd reply, "About half an hour." It even worked for a while. But that's not the point.)
I am not at the "Are we there yet?" stage in Brainiac Kapow. I'm guessing at close to 10,000 words along that I'm roughly 15 percent, lot of miles to go. I'm still at the "Where are we going?" stage. Kids never ask that in the car, because presumably you told them before you set out.
But right now I'm really surprised by where I am. I thought I knew exactly where the story was going when we got in the car. But that's not where we're headed, as near as I can tell.
Don't get me wrong. I'm liking what I've got. I've got some good characters, I'm handling the POV shifts well (I think I am, anyway.) It's an interesting story. But it's subtly different than what I thought I had when I started, and I suspect the difference will grow as we move farther along the road. I also suspect some of this is the kind of background that I need to know to write the story, but I'm not sure yet if the reader needs to know.
It's interesting, that's for sure. I'm really eager to find out where we're headed. And maybe that's the point. It's the first draft. If I don't like it, there's always the second draft. It's a capital mistake to stop and go back and try to change it now. Keep fiddling-tweaking-second guessing and you'll never do anything else, just keep polishing those first few chapters. You'll never finish that first draft. You'll never get anywhere.
Maybe it's going in the wrong direction, or maybe this is turning out to be a deeper, better story than I could have imagined. I have no idea yet, and that's the exciting part. I'm not going where I thought I was, but I'm going somewhere.
But I can't say I'm there yet, or even "about half an hour" away. Here's where I am.
WIP UPDATE – Really liked Friday's work, more interesting chapter than I'd thought I was writing. And it was productive: 2,336 words, bringing the total to 9,116.