Achievement Unlocked: Write a Novel

Boom. And the first draft is complete.

A mere eleven months, 90,401 words and 383 pages of double-spaced size 12 Courier New later, I can now say:

“Why yes, I have written a novel. Thanks for asking. I’ll have a glass of the Malbec.”

If anyone reading this is thinking “I’m never going to finish my book. It’s too hard/slow/painful” – don’t despair! If I can do it, you can too. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and 90,401 steps later you get there.

I’m delighted to say that I’m really happy with the novel. Despite – or more likely because of – not actually having read more than about half of it. (I’m not the edit-as-you-go type. More the write-it-and-immediately-forget-what-you-wrote-two-chapters-ago type.) I can’t wait to go back to the beginning and start tearing it to pieces and putting it back together – but I’ve read a lot of advice that says give it a couple of months distance after the first draft before beginning to edit.

Which is also fine and good, because it’ll give me a chance to work on the outline for my next one, the far-future detective noire I mentioned in my last post. So far I’ve just got a very high level main plot and some roughly sketched characters – it needs some serious fleshing out.

Ha. Listen to me. You’d think I was a writer. Oh, wait – I am!

Achievement unlocked.

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9 thoughts on “Achievement Unlocked: Write a Novel

  1. Let me be the first to congratulate you on your historic achievement. I for one have found that once you become an author of a book, you are forever the author of that book. It’s sort of like once you become a parent, you’re always a parent. I don’t know how many times I’ve told my friends I finished the book. “You finished another one?” Nope, same one. I finished it again. “You’ve finished that about five times though.” Sigh! Yes, yes, I have, but I realized that it wasn’t quite right…that…15th time through though. “When do we get to read it?” Hold on, I say running to give it a quick 16th revision. I drove myself nuts, until I read Robert McCammon say:
    “Some of the times, you just have to let it go!” That’s obviously a condensed version of what he said, but it stuck with me. I let it go, let them read it, and they loved it. I then went through a 17th time, so that I could feel impervious to any criticism they may throw my way, and I could say, Oh yeah, you read the old version didn’t you? I may be more obsessive than most, but these are my babies.

    • Hey there! Thanks very much for the congrats, and the lovely comment.

      As I’ve never written a novel until now, I’ve never edited one, so it’s with some trepidation that I wonder what I’ll be like when it comes time to let my baby leave the nest, as it were. Hopefully fine, if only because I’ve already got four other novels that I really want to write!

      Best of luck with draft 18 🙂

      • Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald: “First drafts are shit!” I give you that comment not to discourage you, or leave you thinking that you haven’t even started, but as a lollipop for you to lick on when you run across those sections of your novel that even you consider shit. I look at a first draft as the body of the work. It was everything that I could slam down before I forgot anything. Based upon what I’ve read of your numerous blogs, you’re probably more talented than I am, but you’re still going to run into words, sentences, and entire paragraphs of your novel that make no sense. Either that, or they won’t be as entertaining as you thought they were the first time through. When that happens, stick the lollipop in and get to work. Hemingway couldn’t get it right the first time through either.

      • Superb. Hemingway knew what he was talking about. See: ‘Write drunk; edit sober.’

        I’ve had a quick look over the first few chapters, and already a few passages have made me wince. It’s amazing how much I’ve improved just over the course of one book. It helps if you start from quite a low point, I think!

        Very kind of you to suggest that I might have a bit of talent. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of your blog so far too. Best of luck with your endeavours!

  2. Congrats on completing your first draft!
    The first one is always the hardest. Before I turned my attention to writing my nearly complete novel, I wrote seven feature film scripts (none sold as of yet). Completing that first one was a chore, but I felt very proud. Make sure to have a little bit of a celebration before diving back into the creative grinder.
    Many, MANY people think writing a story or novel or scripts is play-time. But when when you push and shove them to a table to pen and paper to start developing a story and characters, many, MANY will find themselves overwhelmed or just run screaming.
    So, make sure to sit back and look upon what you’ve accomplished. You wrote a novel! Be proud and bask in your glory!
    I’ll be joining you in that basking/ glory thing soon.

    • Thanks very much, Sark 🙂

      I’m uber-proud. In less than a year I’ve gone from idly daydreaming about one day being a writer, to actually having a completed novel. It’s a little crazy to think about – but I can actually do this! I can’t wait to get back into that creative grinder (nice phrase, by the way). You’re right, though. Some celebrating is in order first!

  3. Congratulations! You have joined the ranks of authors! Now, have your drink, rest for a bit, then prepare to sell your soul to the literary devil and slave over your editing for the next eleven months, go through bouts of joy and anger, love and hatred of your creation and know that, one day soon, it’ll be done and in someone’s hands. Taking a couple months and working on something else is really good advice. It helps you separate yourself from your novel and make it possible for you to look at it from a more impersonal view. Have fun playing with the new novel! And good luck with the editing when it comes around!
    I want one of those mugs…

    • Thanks very much Rhiannon! I did plan to leave a gap before starting editing, but I couldn’t resist – dived straight back in after a couple of days 🙂

      I’ve got a professional editor lined already for later in the year, too, who’ll give the manuscript a good kicking. Looking forward to that (slightly masochistically).

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  4. Pingback: What Kind Of Year Has It Been? | dan-harris.net

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