But I can’t.
I have to step back, take a few—many—deep breaths, and just let it sit. My wife is going to be my first reader and give me revision notes (love being married to a qualified editor, by the way), and I have to sit back, stop thinking about it for a while, and work on completing another project.
But I have to tell you, as someone who has always wanted to write a novel, being able to say that I’ve done it is a very accomplished feeling. The hard part may not be done yet—revising, editing, proofing, querying, querying, querying—and I know I can’t rest on my laurels, but now I know that I’m capable of it.
An Odd Feeling
It’s a little strange to have a project that I’ve worked on day after day for the past couple months to finally come to a close. I’m very happy about it because when I sat down to start it, I had no real idea if I would ever be able to finish it. 86k words is by far the longest piece of anything I’ve ever written.
Right now, I’ll admit: I feel a bit empty.
With that much of the project behind me (until the revisions have to start), I feel weird. Because now when I sit down at my desk in the morning, I will not be working on my novel. I don’t honestly know what I’ll be working on, but it won’t be the story I’ve worked on for some two months prior.
I guess I know why Stephen King can constantly crank out novels and short stories. Writing—creating—is addictive, and now that I’ve started I don’t want to stop.
That’s a good thing. I don’t want to burn out (on the characters/world I’ve developed or writing itself), but at the same time, I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve gained in developing my discipline.
Is It Done?
Not by a long shot.
There are technically four small scenes that I left out of this first draft of the manuscript. The reason I didn’t go ahead and write them is simple: I don’t know if they’re necessary and finding a place to fit them in (they’re entirely characterization and did nothing to really move along the plot) was more trouble than it may have been worth.
Once Jennifer finishes reading it and gets her critiques back to me, I’m going to ask her about that. I already have a list of revisions I think need to be made, and I will combine those with hers. After those are all taken care of, I’ll send it out to a handful of other beta readers, and I’ll do the same thing with their comments.
Then I’ll start querying agents. I hope to be at that point by the beginning of next summer. We’ll see how things go.
The Plan, Part 2
My initial plan for the summer is still on track. I still intend to write every day, though now I’ve tacked one more goal onto that and revised it a bit to better reflect lessons I’ve learned so far as I work toward my intended goal.
The newly revised goal is this:
Write and polish two new short stories; one of which is to based around my novel’s world, while the other can be anything new I want to write. I will be ready to submit one, if not both, of these to professional, paying markets by September 1. Then, I intend to collect and revise 6-10 previously written shorts in order to prepare them for Kindle publication no later than mid-December (in time for all those Kindles given as Christmas gifts to hit Amazon and start downloading).
I don’t think that is entirely unreasonable at all. In fact, I might be able to get more than that done, but I would rather be realistic with my goals and go above and beyond them than fall short because I had no idea what I was getting into.
Patting Myself on the Back
Right now, I’m happy—happier than I’ve ever been creatively. I’m enjoying being able to finally man up and work toward making my dream a reality. And I’m pretty proud of myself. I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, but had never previously wanted to do the work it takes to make it happen. I thought that if I had a few good ideas, a novel would miraculously be written. I thought that if I wanted it badly enough, the completed draft would just kind of…appear.
Over the course of the past few months, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer, and I’ve learned a lot about the process of writing. And the main thing I’ve learned is this: writing a book is hard work, even on the days when it comes easiest. So I’m patting myself on the back, taking a couple of days away from MS Word and being content that I’ve taken the first step to living my dream.
Even though my book’s first draft may be finished, the “Writing My Novel” posts here definitely aren’t. Now, actually, is when they should begin having a lot more meat to them, as I can look back and write about what lessons I learned as a first-time novel-writer instead of fumbling along trying to figure out the process. I’m no expert. I’m still a newbie, and I’m still unpublished. But I’m a hell of a lot smarter than I was two months ago, I’ll tell you that. And because of that, because I spent the effort to do it and learn, I will not be an unpublished newbie forever.