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.
(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!
On Discipline: I’m currently re-reading Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer—well, scratch that, I’m kind of skimming it and diving into the parts I need right now and dancing around the parts I don’t. Which I think VanderMeer would be OK with. Anyway, I am currently re-experiencing Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, and part of that is looking at the web-only “extras.” I found this essay on discipline to be something I especially needed right now. (You can learn more about this really extraordinary creative writing book at wonderbooknow.com.)
The Art of Neil Gaiman: The Story of a Writer, by Hayley Campbell. I started reading this because I needed a kind of writing pick-me-up, but that’s not what this book is. Neil Gaiman’s writing journey is remarkable, but not aspirational; so many of the things that got him to be the Neil Gaiman of Today are such distinct, unique, Neil Gaiman-y kinds of things that not only are they not replicable they aren’t really encouraging. Once I got over that mental hump, it’s an enjoyable read that seems to turn into a different kind of book every 25 pages or so. Currently it’s a history of 1980s/90s comics, and I’m into it.
“I know a good book when I read one, and I know a good book when I write one.” I have reread this dumpster fire of a post multiple times since I first encountered it (including more than one dramatic read-aloud) and it is a delight every time. It’s awful, but amazing.