A little over a year ago (okay, it was 06/17/13, I got curious and looked it up) I wrote a post proclaiming I’d finished the rough draft of my first novel. I won’t/can’t go back and read it because it will make me cringe too hard, but I remember not feeling the sense of pride or accomplishment I thought I would or should.
There were a couple reasons for that: the story’s word count was simply too low for it to be considered a novel, as it was solidly in novella territory, but I also just didn’t like the way the story turned out. It was a good idea, and one I’m itching to rewrite in the near future, but that first draft was mostly unusable crap.
I mention all that because after writing still another rough draft that was novella length (one that was much better and will take significantly less to make it into a something workable), I finally have a legitimate rough draft of a legitimate novel. And you know what? It feels pretty good.
It’s a rewrite of a novella I wrote maybe a year and a half, two years ago. I was proud of it then, and gave it to a couple people to read. Their opinions were unanimous—what I thought was a cool cliffhanger ending to the story left them coldly unsatisfied. “It stopped right when it was getting good,” one of them said.
So I went on to other things and kept writing, but the story burned in the back of mind constantly (as all unfinished stories do), until finally I had an idea that I thought might work. Then a few months ago I got to it and started writing, which has left me where I am now—with just over 65,000 words of raw mass. A giant hunk of clay, waiting to be formed into a bizarre-looking ashtray. Or, as Mr. Eloquence Chuck Wendig calls first drafts, a big vat of vomit with a bunch of legos in it. So now begins the task of sifting through the vomit and snapping bricks together.
And it’s not like all the short stories I’ve been writing don’t count for anything—on the contrary, I still have a handful I’m trying to get done and at no point will there never be an end to writing them. They’re fun, after all. But there’s something about knowing I wrote an honest-to-god book, you know?
So now the real work begins. Fleshing out characters, fixing clunky dialogue, shrinking plot holes, all that junk. It’s going to be hard, but I’ve already come this far, too late to stop now. The editing (and continued writing on whatever project I pick next) will continue to eat into my blogging time—if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been fairly inactive on here, and that’s likely to continue, at least for a while—but I’ll get into that with my next post.
In the meantime, I need to find some hip boots or some waders or something: I’ve got to go looking for legos in enough vomit to fill a kiddie pool.
8 thoughts on “I’m finally finished (by which I mean I’m really not even close to being finished at all)”
There IS something about the knowing. Short stories are but the appetizers for the main course, one which will satisfy you and leave you hungry an hour later. It’s a gnawing sensation deep inside that continues to drive you ever forward and resides just outside the edge of reason.
I busy myself constantly during my free time, writing short stories and the like, but it’s the novel of which I am always in pursuit. Once you have the taste for it, it’s something you will find yourself craving more often than not.
Remember to tuck your pant legs in and duck tape the top of your boots to your legs before you start. There’s nothing worse than being half way through, only to discover that a lego has inexplicably found its way inside.
Ha! Some sage advice from a fellow vomit-sifter. Thanks!
Stupendous! Great Job, Jobe. A novel, even a first draft, is a big achievement. Good luck on edits.
You can do it, Kenneth! I know the feeling… Last year I was so enthusiastic and extremely motivated – I really was determined to finish my ‘book’. But a year has passed since and not much has happened, the draft is still waiting for me to be edited. Even though I only have to rewrite a few chapters (the most difficult ones though), I just can’t get myself to do it. I have been writing poetry and short stories in the meantime, but this huge project can’t seem to be finished… I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you for the well wishes! I wouldn’t feel too bad about not finishing your book yet—after all you’ve still been creating, and that’s what really important (in my opinion). Good to hear from you again!
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