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.
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.
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.
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.