This morning I finished the first draft of Blackwater.

Since launching Carry Tiger to Mountain on April 27th, I’ve found new energy and enthusiasm for writing. I might also be the season, the dark days of winter have passed and spring is in full bloom. Whatever the case, I’ve been up almost every morning at 5am to write for two or three hours before starting my “day job” consulting. The result has been amazing. Since April 27th (about one month) I’ve written 17 chapters, 75,000 words and 278 pages. My one day record was over the May 24th long weekend, when on Sunday I wrote 31 pages and almost 8,000 words. Previously I had written the first 6 chapters. Only the prologue and first chapter are anywhere near polished. I’ve really been just writing as quickly as possible (because I’m a romantic, I call this puking the words onto the page) and not worrying about how good the writing is, or if things are even spelt correctly.

Blackwater has a long history. The protagonist, Cole Blackwater, emerged from a name some friends of mine in Utah gave to me a long time ago – Glint Longshadow. This was the name that my friends from Tex’s Riverways gave me after fetching my friends and I at the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers post a 21 day canoe trip on the Green River. I guess I had the thousand mile stare going or something.

Cole emerged during a trip Kathleen and my older son Rio took to Costa Rica two and a half years ago. During our time on the Caribbean Coast, I sat and read five mystery novels in a short order, drank a lot of beer, and started kicking around the idea of Blackwater. I sketched the characters in my head first, and then, on the long flight back to Canada, I wrote biographical sketches of each character, and the premise of the mystery.

A few months later I pinched my sciatic nerve, and this forced me to abandon a ten day backpacking trip on day four. Kat and Rio were in Winnipeg, so I drove to the Columbia Valley and hung out with my friend Mark Holmes (who illustrated Carry Tiger to Mountain) and wrote the outline for this novel. It took about four or five days of writing 6 or 7 hours a day to get the 35 page outline done, but doing this has made this current burst of writing possible. Without this outline I’d be always wondering if I was getting the plot right. With it, all I’ve had to do is refer to it once or twice a day, and just write.

Now, the real fun begins! Starting tomorrow I’m going to dive into the second draft, polishing the writing (checking the spelling…sigh) and adjusting times, dates, names, plot lines to ensure they are consistent. My goal is to have this phase done by the end of June.