I know that finishing a first draft is only the beginning of a long journey, but damn it feels good.
This draft is clocking in at what seems like a whopping 107,642 words, and I honestly can’t believe it’s done. There are a lot of things to fix, of course, but it’s been 8 years since I finished a draft of ANYTHING* and I’m just going to revel for a bit. I quit my job a few months ago and finishing this novel was really my primary goal for how to use this time and… I did it!!
Setting this one to sit for a bit before draft 2
Noodling on and then starting the next novel
Also, wow, I continue to REALLY hate this new WordPress editor!
*If this is the future and any agents or editors are reading this like “I wonder if I want to work with Grace,” I generally am much more productive and work much faster on tasks that I am being paid for.
So! I treated myself to a whole month of hardcore writing, with an intention of finishing the first draft of this novel. I ended up writing around 40,000 words total, bringing the whole draft to a whopping (to me) 102,000 that is probably about 4/5 of what needs to be there to complete the story. So—not finished, but progress!
But… I ended up in the wrong place.
After a marathon writing day on Saturday, during which I starting to have the niggling realization that I was boring myself silly, I let the manuscript sit for two days. In general, when I feel this bad writing it means I’ve branched off at some point and taken the wrong road. But it’s (still) a first draft so surely I could just charge ahead? Fix it in post?
But it’s so, so wrong. If I finished down this wrong path, the first thing I’d have to do in Draft 2 is chop off the last quarter of the book. So I hemmed and hawed a bit, but finally decided this morning that I’m going to backtrack and try to make a messy route down the right path.
So I’ve cut back to about 92,000 words, and here we go. Writing continues to be something I’ve done for almost 30 years that I still know nothing about.
(Prelude: NaNo, for the uninitiated, is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month, wherein a large number of ordinarily pretty normal human beings try to crank out 50,000 written words in the span of one month—November—presumably finishing a novel in the process.)
I realized yesterday that this year’s NaNo marks 10 years on a few big anniversaries for me.
10 years ago this month, I dove headlong into NaNo Boston for the first time and met many like-minded writerly people who continue to be good friends today, people who are an integral part of my “Boston life.” (Yesterday one of these friends came over for a two-person NaNo write-in. I was like “dude, we’re so old!”) I’d lived in Boston for almost a year at this point, and had made the decision that I actively needed to make friends that weren’t on the internet. So obviously I chose an introverted, internet-centric activity to accomplish this. Anyway, it worked out, and hey—anyone I met that first year in November 2009, it’s been 10 years! We’re so old!
10 years ago this week, I met my partner. His shop was generously hosting a weekly NaNo write-in and I just… wandered in. Into his heart. The rest is history. We’re celebrating our 10-year anniversary early next year. What??
Have I ever finished a book during NaNo? Psh, of course not. Don’t be absurd. My relationship with NaNo has never been about writing. I can write a book at any time of the year. (Or, more likely, I can not write a book at any time of year. I don’t have to just not write it in November.) I usually like to kind of hitch my star to NaNo, to try to channel that energy of so many people being into writing books—how cool!—but I’m under no illusions that I’m going to succeed at any of my writing goals. In terms of writing books, my 10 years of NaNo have been pretty much a bust.
But for me NaNo’s never been about that 50K, really, and overall it’s made my life pretty darn good. Here’s to 10 more years!