What’s done is . . . not really done

So, I finished the first draft of my first novel yesterday.

There wasn’t a ticker-tape parade, no angels descended from on high to serenade me, and editors didn’t fight like rabid weasels over the right to read it first.

Bummer.

But, it isn’t really “done” done, anyway. I have a lot of things that still need to be done, from fine-tuning the plot to correcting spelling errors. Somewhere along the line, almost every character had a name change, so I have to go back through and check for consistency. Am I calling him Sam when I changed his name to Bill? (Not that they have such mundane names. This is a fantasy novel, after all.)

I suppose I’ll have to go back and break it into chapters, too, and number those. Then, after everything is edited and as beautiful as I can make it, I have to struggle to get it formatted properly for submitting to agents and editors.

Bleh.

So, yes, the novel is finished, in that I told the story I wanted to tell, over the time period which I wanted to explore, and through the eyes of the character most suited to be the narrator. I’ve joined that club of people who have actually sat down and finished a novel. It’s not a ritzy exclusive club– goodness knows, there are some awful novels out there– but it is an accomplishment, all the same. At least I’ve proven to be stubborn enough to slog through writing 105,000 words in a row.

There’s some bitterness hiding in there, though. I’m trying to work through it, but it’s rough going. It’s hard to accomplish something that you’ve dreamed of doing for decades . . . and then 99.999999999% of the population really couldn’t be bothered to give a damn about it. It pares away all those selfish reasons for writing a novel. You wanted to be famous? Haha. You wanted to be respected? Gimme a break. You wanted to be loved?

Ah, there’s the rub. That’s what kills the sensitive artists, the broken alcoholics and the helpless manic depressives. There are writers out there who don’t care about such things (mostly men of a certain almost autistic obsessiveness) and also those who just do it for the money.  The rest? Endlessly craving love . . . no matter what the accolade, it can never be enough for those types. They have to do more, they have to dream bigger, they have to run off to fight the Turks and die of some exotic disease.

Me?

Oh, I loved my characters, I loved my world, and I loved the story I had to tell. And I’ll polish it and hone it and, in the end. . . it will just be another story that I told. I’ve written reams of stories that I’ve completely forgotten. I doubt I’ll forget this one– as my first novel, it bled me more than the others did. But I can’t stay in that world forever. There’s a new novel waiting to be written. In fact, I might sit down this evening, select the music that inspires it on Spotify, and start working on the next book.

Because writing, like housecleaning and laundry, is a job that’s never really done.

 

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About endurancemom

Writer of fantasy and historical fantasy fiction, mother of 6, former nurse, Catholic convert, wife of 24 years, and general all-around geek. Warning: Do not attempt this at home. View all posts by endurancemom

8 responses to “What’s done is . . . not really done

  • Keri Peardon

    You sound like me two years ago when I finished up my novel after several months. I was excited that I had actually written a novel, but the road ahead looked long.

    And it was. I’m just now getting ready to self-publish it. It feels like I’ve been editing it forever! (Although I took time off from the editing to get 46 agent rejections/no responses.)

    Let me warn you: writing a query letter will be worse than writing the whole damn book. And if you self-publish, writing the back-cover blurb will be worse than writing the whole damn book. I went through 4 query letters and 4 blurbs before I was finally satisfied. Summing up a 110,000 word novel in 250 words or less is painful!

    Now that I’m a few chapters from my final edit (just checking for typos and e-book formatting errors), I’m feeling really excited. Seeing it on my Kindle screen is a bit surreal. Sometimes I have to remind myself, “That’s MY book I’m reading!”

    Then I remember that I have a rough draft of book two that needs some serious editing before publication in 2 years, and I almost want to cry.

    This saying is very true: “I’m a professional writer because I can’t help it.”

    The road doesn’t get any easier (or shorter), but you will make milestones along the way. You will accomplish things you can look back at and be proud of.

    And I’m coming to the opinion that publishing books/stories/poetry is less about talent and more about dogged determination. Stay with it long enough–work hard enough–and you will succeed.

    BTW, what’s laundry and housecleaning? Are these things you’re supposed to do regularly? I don’t think I’ve seen my vacuum cleaner in the past two years! LOL

    • martibooker

      Hah, thanks for the encouragement. It feels like I’m back at the beginning in a way with just more mountains to climb!

      Good luck with your novel. 🙂 I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  • monolithbooks

    I understand how you feel. I just finished mine in April, I asked eleven friends to read it and give me feedback, after two months I have received comments from two of them. The process is long and it is hard, and yes I have to say one of the best tools for a writer is determination. You will make it, will it be easy, no. But the fact that it is not easy is what makes it great.

    • martibooker

      Oooh, asking people to read it is terrifying. I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t read it and hate it– we still have to like each other after the critique!

      And determination is definitely the big thing. It took me 18 months to write this novel, twice as long as making a baby. Maybe next time I’ll cut that time down!

      • monolithbooks

        My best advise for getting critiques from people is have them write them down. Read through all of the criticism and then put them away for a day or two. Do not talk about them or stress. Once you go back to them you will be able to see them in the helpful light they are intended.

      • martibooker

        The waiting is the hardest part, but it’s so valuable. I picked up the first 3 pages of my next novel, which I’d written last fall, and immediately saw several ways to make it better. I think the trick is figuring out when the edits are “done.”

  • Life and all things love

    Congratulations! What an amazing feat! Good luck with editing!

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