8 weeks, 24 chapters, 95, 663 words.
Today, at 5:14 PM Pacific Time, I wrote the last word of the only first novel I will ever write without access to time travel or body-swap technology. It’s over. For nearly two months, it has been my entire life. I ate and drank and breathed…well, food and liquid and air. But I did an awful lot of writing in between those bits.
I’m waiting for my mind to be blown by the fact that I’ve actually written a novel. I don’t think it’s going to happen. It’s been weeks since I had any doubt that I’d finish it. Even during those desperate periods just past the halfway mark when I was sure I would never come up with a decent ending.
I’m also waiting for the crushing existential crisis about what to do next. That one really might happen. It’s not a total lie to say that in the last few months I haven’t made any life plans that extend pass today. I just wanted to finish my novel. I was on the mountain with a limited supply of air and power-bars, and nothing mattered but that I reach the summit. Because they have a cafe up there and if I had to choke down another damn power bar I was going to scream.
Mostly, it’s just awesome. I wrote a novel! A few months ago I was pretty sure I would die without successfully pulling that one off. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first crossed the dimensional rift into the plane of pure words when I was three (I was precocious). But there have been moments in my life when I honestly thought it was more likely I would acquire super powers.
The novel isn’t finished, of course. I only wrote the first draft. Or perhaps the 1.5th draft. I’ve been editing and rewriting with the help of some jerk I mentioned before, so it’s not totally raw. But it needs work. I hope to slice between 5,000 and 10,000 of those words off, as intimidating as that sounds. There are some structural problems, since I was definitely making up parts of the plot as I went along. And I think my prose improved as I went on. My editing skills definitely did. So a rewrite is in order. All of that being said, I think the thing doesn’t suck. And since first drafts are kind of supposed to suck, that’s a reasonably big deal.
I don’t want to look at it for at least four weeks. Stephen King says to give it six weeks at minimum. But it occurs to me that he’s a horror writer, just like me. The way I see it, we’re in direct competition. So what he says is suspect. In fact, I wouldn’t past him to have altered my audio copy of On Writing, to give me poisoned advice and throw me off the scent. It makes too much sense. And he’s rich and connected enough to do it.
I’m on to you, Mr. King. I’m on to you.
But during those weeks away from my twisted literary embryo, I won’t quite know what to do with myself. It’s funny, because you know what I want to do, with the novel finished? Now that I’ve slogged through the grueling and intense process of shoveling words into the hungry fire, spending hundreds of hours with the same story and plot and characters for the first time in my life? You know what my primary desire is, right now?
I want to sit in front of a blank computer screen, put my fingers on the keyboard, and start on another one.