My first manuscript has been in the black hole since June 18; that's 54 days. (Don't want to do the math yourself? Go here and input the start and end dates.) I've probably got a minimum of another 30 or 40 to hear back about it. In the meantime, I'm plugging along with my second manuscript. I realized I hadn't mentioned it for awhile (at least not a long status update as opposed to an aside when talking about something else).
Some things are going better than the last time around. My dialogue tags are much improved. I'm not saying I don't let a word other than "said" or "asked" slip in occasionally, but it's rare. There's almost no sipping of drinks now (that was a big problem last time). There's a little more nodding than I would like, but I am now extremely conscious of each instance of nodding. And I know to watch out for it. Few adverbs are included.
I'm going to have one of the same challenges as last time, which is the order of things. I decided it's best to do chronological order. This is the way my mind works, and I've had a few issues with non-chronological storytelling, in terms of following other stories (one incident in Heaven's Needle and another in The Lies of Locke Lamora). So I'm going to go to great effort here, during the editing stage. But, I do know what I need to write and I'm writing it, moving from character group to character group as the desire arises. Rearranging and revising for consistency can come later. The hardest part is getting those first words on the page.
Some minor characters from the last manuscript are getting more time here, and some major characters from the last manuscript have moved aside. While I do hope that my characters are interesting and complex and sympathetic, this is more of a plot-driven novel, in my mind. I've had enough of the hero's journey lately, and I didn't want to write that. This book is a little heavier with the female characters, and there's more of a romantic element than I originally intended, but there have been deaths and deceptions and other moments of drama so far, and there's a battle (more of a minor skirmish among unequally matched sides) to come. There have been revelations and secret assignations (side note: is "secret assignation" redundant?). There will be a reunion, there'll be a couple of solo journeys, there's a conspiracy afoot. (It sounds more exciting than it actually is, when I describe it this way...or maybe it really is exciting, and it's just hard for me to take a step back and see it that way, since it's my creation.)
I'm about 316 handwritten pages in; soon I'll have to switch to a new spiral notebook. I've run through at least two pens so far and am near to running through my third (I can tell by the number of ink color changes on the pages). This is slightly less than half as long as my first draft of my first manuscript.
Meanwhile, the ideas keep coming. Maybe two nights ago, I had what I think is a brilliant idea for a magical system/cult and central conflict (political and personal) of a new standalone (or possibly duology). I can't help but continue to add details to that in my head.
I wish I could write full time. Gotta sell something first, though.