The Big Score - First Draft

This past May 31st, I added the final touches to the first draft for what should become my third book and second Young Adult novel.

Temporarily titled The Big Score and currently, at approximately 44,000 words, you could say that this book was the hardest I’ve written so far. While my previous book, “I.C.Q.," took me around thirty contiguous days to complete the first draft, The Big Score started our back in November 1st as part of National Novel Writing Month 2020, and was only completed seven months later.

Here’s a quick blurb:

"Torres and Abby have been stealing car emblems in their town for the last two years, managing to gather quite an impressive collection and making a name for themselves among the inner circles of their high school. Lately, they have been butting heads and trying to outdo one another, leading them to argue during lunch period. As pressure mounts into a rising conflict between Torres and Abby, they both agree to a challenge (aka., the big score) to see who is the best emblem thief in town. The loser not only has to “retire” but publicly declare the winner as the king or queen in town."

The troubles I’ve experienced were primarily due to the following factors:

First, due to some philosophical and strategical with my previous manager, I realized that I had to look for a different position or run the risk of bumping heads and being unhappy at work. Deep down, I knew that what I really needed was to change my role and not just look for a different place in the organization but, the process that I had to undergo to finally come to this conclusion took a long and winding road.

I’ve spent the last nine years climbing the “corporate ladder” and building a team from the original seven members that were already there when I first joined the company to a group of one hundred and fifteen software quality engineers encompassing four major product lines. Throughout these nine years, I not only single-handly hired many of our engineers, but also built close relationships with many of them, so… how do you say goodbye to something you’ve labored so hard to build?

I now realize that unconsciously, I had already been thinking about this since at least November of 2019. Things finally came to a halt on November 19th, and that is when I stopped writing to start looking for new opportunities inside and outside work. There were many nights when I would wake up in the middle of the night and question myself if I was doing the right thing. Why are you throwing away what took you so long to achieve? And You’re forty-six and not getting any younger. Are you sure you want to start things over? My mind wandered over all the possible outcomes, including the very plausible scenario where I’d be passively-aggressively forced to resign and find myself unemployed.

I guess I could continue talking about the whole process of how I finally managed to find a new role in a different organization at Red Hat this past April, and how it has been an incredible journey thus far. Perhaps this is a post for another day. Suffice to say that around the second week of April I went back to working on The Big Score, taking every opportunity that came up late in the evenings when the kids were asleep to make some progress.

Second, while the new normal of working from home due to the pandemic seemed to have given some people more time to do other things other than work, such as read, or cook, or spend more time with their loved ones, as a team leader who cares about his associates, I found that my workload increased almost two-fold. Not only was I working longer hours, but I also was taking on a lot of psychological baggage from my teammates that had no other place to go to. So many of my teammates had a real hard time dealing with loneliness, emotional distress, and some even lost loved ones during 2020, and I did my best to reach out to as many of them as possible–remember, there were one hundred and fifteen of them–and try to alleviate their anxiety and sadness.

So throughout 2020, I worked longer hours and ended my days mostly trying to find healthy ways of releasing the emotional charge I’d accumulated throughout the day while still trying to be present for my wife and daughters, who were also experiencing the same distress and anxiety as my teammates.

There were days when I broke down during a meeting and allowed the tears to run free, like the day I heard about how a good friend had lost his young daughter to a freak accident in the Czech Republic, or when I listened to my then manager talk about his mother passing away and how he chose to remember her going forward.

For the most part, I was able to stay mentally healthy and able to cope with many other factors that living under a pandemic brought on all of us, but these things did affect my ability to continue working on my book.

Lastly, there were a couple of chapters and characters that stretched me a little bit, and I struggled to adequately capture the story and the identity of some of the characters–I wonder if you can tell which ones once you, hopefully, read the book. There was a chapter, in particular, that took me several weeks to finish and I even considered discarding it all together at multiple times just so that I could continue with the story. Some other chapters pretty much wrote themselves, so spending so much time in one single chapter was a bit frustrating at times.

Now that the first draft is completed, what’s next, you may be wondering? Well, the first thing I did was submit that first manuscript–that’s what a book is called before it’s edited, proofread, and published, by the way–to The Latinx in Publishing Inc. (LxP) Work-in-Progress (WiP) Fellowship Program, which was created to provide support and create opportunities for aspiring Latinx writers–that would be me! Since I struggled so much trying to find an agent, any agent that would give me a single morsel of their time when I was shopping around for “I.C.Q.," I am looking for all the help I can get here. If I get selected, then I’ll have the opportunity to work with a Macmillian editor for the next ten months starting in July 2021. One lucky winner will be chosen for the Young Adult category by a panel of judges.

If things don’t pan out, then I’ll contact the editor I worked with on “I.C.Q." and self-publish it, this time on IngramSpark and not via Kindle Create as I did before. I learned the hard way that some independent book stores won’t even consider looking at your book if it was published via Amazon, so… there.

I’ve already started writing some notes for my next books–yes, plural–including perhaps a sequel to “I.C.Q." by “popular demand.” :) I have the feeling that I’ll be back in front of a text editor pretty soon.

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