The book took about four months to write, from the first line to the rough draft. I began writing in late January or early February 2016 and finished toward the end of May. That’s not the whole story though, on either end.
Before I began writing, I had the basic plot in my head. How long that took, I can’t say. It was a story line that developed over a period of years. I think it began with my interest in travel. To me, it would be a shame to live a lifetime on this Earth and never see very much of it. But, a week or two once or twice a year on tours in tourist meccas turned me off. I wanted to see the real world, meet real people, see the wild places. To do that, you have to spend time there. At some point, I realized that my love of sailing worked pretty well with that. If you visited far shores in a live-aboard boat, you could afford to stay a long time and really get to know the place. So, I began to hatch a retirement plan to do just that. Naturally, for a daydreamer like me, that led to conjurings of experiences I would have and places I would visit and those led to more elaborate fantasies which led to story lines. One of them, sailing across the pond to the Mediterranean including a long visit in Israel, became the genesis of Tunnel Rat.
That process converged with another, my interest in writing. By January 2016, when the thing had developed to the point I decided to write it down, I had spent many years writing as a hobby. By the time the plot for Tunnel Rat came along, I no longer had to labor quite so much with the craft of writing. I could concentrate on the story and just tell it. It was a very enjoyable experience.
This may sound odd, and it probably is, but I was entertained and emotionally moved by the story as I told it. After receiving feedback from reviewers, I have come to understand something I think is important enough to highlight. That is: the parts of the story I enjoyed writing the most are the same parts of the story people most enjoy reading. That’s pretty cool, right? The more I enjoy the writing, the more the readers seem to enjoy the reading. It’s a win-win situation!
I had a general story line in January 2016, but that was all. I began developing it further as I wrote. The process was similar to that used in developing architectural designs. We develop a design concept and then seek to advance that concept into a finished project. The basic concept is a guide that is used to inform design decisions throughout the remainder of the project. It’s like a rudder that steers you through the process and brings consistency to the whole. So, to me, the basic plot was a concept which I sought to elaborate and enrich throughout the process of writing, just as I would an architectural design. Even after the first draft, if I found, or reviewers suggested, enhancements that would improve the story or enhance the reader’s experience, I would go back and incorporate them. Receiving and incorporating ideas from others was not strange to me, it is the norm in architecture. Architectural projects are done by teams of people. The best designers love to kick around ideas and they love, love, love to see a project improve. They don’t care whose idea it is, they are delighted to see the thing get better. They have a playful, joyous, inventive attitude toward design development. The best buildings are developed that way. I am convinced that stories developed that way can be good also.
The process of enhancement did not stop in May 2016. It paused when I set the project aside for a year. But, it didn’t stop when I resumed work on it this year in May 2017. It didn’t stop in June either after editing was completed. It is now the 19th of July as I write this. Up until a few days ago, I was still tweaking it. The book, as of yesterday, is available for purchase. I might have to stop now!