I've found, over the course of what's now nine-and a half books, that nobody understands how writers work. They think I can take "days off." That books somehow magically write themselves in the middle of the night. That I don't "really" work.
They are so, so wrong.
I just ALMOST finished the first draft of Book 7 in the Toki-girl and the Sparrow-Boy series. It is taking a little rest for a couple of days before I jump into it again tomorrow for the addition of an important bit of history that I somehow forgot and a general run through to take notes. Then I will go away for the New Year's holiday (a Very Big Deal in Japan) and return to do a real re-write, during a period when I actually CAN take a day or two off now and then to attend to some Real Life Adventures involving Serious Adulting.
But in a first draft, I can't do that. None of it. I have a vague outline in my head, usually a first line and a last line and a general idea of how it gets there, but I also have a dozen characters, each with a separate story to tell against the backdrop of a nation and a time with its very own story to tell. I will have done research that often involves travel and museums. I will have stacks of notes and files in my computer and all of it will mean very little.
When I actually start to write, things change. A first draft is the bones, the skeleton of the book. I have to keep the whole story in my head until I get it down. I'll pick something up and think it's a rib but it'll turn out to be a tibia. Characters will insist on doing things I didn't know they wanted or needed to do. And if I am interrupted, if my brain must go do something else that involves other people and being a grown-up, I have to go back to the beginning and read it over to see what I have already down, and figure out what's sitting in my hand.
Every day I "take off" is two or three more spent on catching up. I cannot tolerate interruptions and if you try to make me, I WILL bite. It hadn't helped that my computer broke TWICE and Apple is very much out of my favor right now. And it always takes twice as long as I think it will.
Until I have that first draft sitting in my hands (or in my computer), I am chasing clouds and herding cats. Now I can breathe.
And, no, I am months away from done. The book will come out in June, for the solstice, as is usual for this series, and I will have some breaks for research trips and other things programmed in. I even have a potentially exciting announcement.
So...there's another post coming with some holiday specials, and you be sure to have a great one.