So: I finished my first novel today.
Yes, I’m done. I wrote a whole novel, and damn, does it feel good! I’ve been wanting to say that all month, let me tell you. It ended up being just over 54,000 words — I hit 50K on Tuesday night. Ironically, this is what I first thought my storyline would turn out to be, and then changed my mind along the way — sometimes I thought it would be almost 60K because of how things were going, and for one day I actually worried that the ending would come before I even reached my goal. Then it turned out to be my original estimate — eighteen chapters and one prologue.
But I did it! I wrote a novel in 29 days! I can rightfully say now that not only am I a writer, but a novelist. I really amaze myself sometimes, you know.
I can think of half a dozen scenes right off the top of my head that will need lots of work when it comes to editing — how about the last two or three chapters and all of chapter four, for starters? I’m sure there’s plenty else that could use some polishing as well. It’s less than perfect, certainly, and once finals are over with then I’m going to be spending a lot of time hunting down the problem spots and fixing them . . . but for now, I’m done! This is the farthest I’ve ever gotten before.
Like they said, third time’s the charm. My first novel was a disaster — I started it in junior high with no idea of where I was going with it and it evolved along the way. It was mainly a growing experience, an experiment of sorts, that bridged my writing from the time I was a child and basically wrote fairy tale-style (“Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess . . .”) with nothing resembling dialogue and many other problems, to finding the beginning of a more mature voice. I learned a lot from it and I regret that it didn’t end up going anywhere, because I grew very attached to it during all that time and effort I put into it (it spanned more than 250 handwritten pages in three different notebooks, plus miles of notes and planning), but as I was writing it got so twisted around with all the changing it was doing that it got tangled up and I couldn’t continue. I still keep it around, and I recycle plot ideas and other material from it for other things, but my first novel will probably never be finished.
My second was more of an epic fanfic, I guess. The Chronicles of an Azalea was “novel-sized,” I called it, basically the history of one of my role-play characters in story form. A good bit of it is [was] actually online, and I got pretty far with it, but I kind of lost interest after the first two years of slaving away at something that was just for a character I don’t even really play anymore. There’s the possibility that I could rewrite it into a world of my own creation (assuming I could ever come up with a good world) one of these days, but for now . . . I’m setting it aside.
But this. I had the idea, and I went through with it all the way to completion. I am very proud of myself right now.
So now my major writing project will be getting back into the groove of updating this journal at least every other day again. (Remember, editing’s not for another three weeks at least.) You stop writing so often and you find yourself starting to lose the habit, especially when it comes to thinking of something to say every single day. (Notice I make no claims to having something interesting to say all the time.)
Other than the major accomplishment of finally finishing today, I don’t think I have much to say. Things have happened, but — and this is part of why I haven’t been writing much this month even when I did have time outside of the novel, and will find it difficult — I’ve been feeling restricted lately in what I can write here. There’s always been things that I haven’t been comfortable with putting into a public forum throughout the entire life of this journal, and now I’m feeling it a lot.
Part of it’s that my readership has extended, especially among people I know, so now instead of thinking that this or that person might read it some day I know there’s a good chance; while that shouldn’t affect what I put here, since I try to write what everyone can see, the thought is closer now of having to deal with someone after them reading this or that. And also just things that have been going on, I don’t feel comfortable with sharing.
And the problem is always, once you start holding some things back and then obsessing, almost, over those things and being careful about leaving them out — to be closed, in essence — makes it more likely that you’ll start holding the maybe things too that you might normally have risked writing, and you feel more secretive, more closed in so that it’s hard to be open about anything. I said before that this break was a good thing, but now the break is over and it’s time for me to write again.
This is it from me today, then. Tomorrow I’ll write more. I want to say more about my experience with National Novel Writing Month, which should give me plenty of material for the next couple of days, and then maybe as I get back into the rhythm, we’ll see what I can do. For now, be assured that I’ll be here again, even if I have to resort to the weather — I’ve missed the journal!