a momentous achievement

i did it!

You will not believe this, but I finished my draft on Sunday!

Last week was an absolute banner week for cranking out words. I roared through the climax and denouement and wrapped it up on Sunday morning, despite an extremely busy weekend. I am thrilled!

I love the story. I’m really happy with the overall plot, the main characters, the themes, and some of the ideas I’ve seeded throughout it that can be developed further. The whole idea lends itself to sequels, and I have an epilogue with a teaser ending that I can cut if an editor doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but *I* think it’s a good idea. It’s right at 50,000 words, exactly where I wanted to end up, and once the idea was ready to go and the outline was in place, it took just over two months to bang it out.

That was the easy part. My next step is to let it sit for a little bit. At least a few weeks. I want to just dive right back in and start editing, but it’s too soon. I won’t have a scrap of critical distance yet, and I’ll also get really depressed when I go back to the rocky beginning and see how bad it is. Because it is dreadful. There are so many garbage sentences, minor and occasionally major inconsistencies, things that were introduced and went nowhere, things that I need to bring up early on so they’re not a surprise later, personalities that shifted, and the annoying spots where I needed to name something and couldn’t come up with anything and just put “xxxx” to deal with later.

Right now, I’m not dealing with any of that. I’m going to rewrite my outline and synopsis to reflect the changes I made while I drafted. I’m going to draw a better map of the spaceship and make charts of how the characters relate to each other. Any reference materials that will help me stay consistent and avoid having to scroll through the entire manuscript to find where I said what colour the command uniforms were in passing. (They were burgundy; I had to do that already.)

One of the most valuable things I’ve learned about writing is that the not-writing times are as critical as the writing times. I took a lot of not-writing time to get ready to begin, and now I need not-writing time to be able to dive into the edits. June is a good month for not-writing time anyway, because even if my calendar looks fairly manageable, the end of the school year and the start of summer turns into mayhem every year. And the mayhem is what fuels the writing ideas, so that helps me embrace it, even when it gets to the point where I’m the personal Uber driver for my kids.

The other critical part of this break is to sit back and appreciate that I wrote an entire novel, start to finish (minus those xxxx parts), and that is a big achievement. It feels cheesy, or self-centred, or some sort of uncomfortable to do that. It’s taken a lot of time, it hasn’t earned any money, no one else has read it, and it’s eaten up a lot of my concentration. My people have had to listen to me go on and on about it for weeks. I did this just for me, because writing is my thing, and because when I’m writing, I’m a better, happier human. I don’t have an agent or a publisher, and I live in hope but there’s no guarantee I will ever be published at all. I wrote fifty thousand words because I wanted to, and I set myself to the task and completed it. That feels like a tiny rebellion against the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy that wants me to only do tasks for profit, or to abandon myself to care tasks and supporting my family. For me, writing is how I shout back that I exist, I’m a person, and earning money and raising kids are not the whole of who I am.

After my last novel went nowhere, I gave up for a while. It wasn’t non-writing time, it was just empty space, because it’s hard to deal with a solid mass of rejections. I’m going to deal with it again, certainly, because the stars have to align to for me to actually get through to the right person at the right time to champion my novel. If this one fails, I will have to lick my wounds again. But I think I believe in it enough to consider self-publishing, if that happens. Being optimistic and realistic at the same time is really hard and vulnerable. Writing novels is hard and vulnerable. And I suppose that means that doing this hard, vulnerable thing is a critical part of me, and that is something I’m proud of.

Currently reading: The Imperial Raadch trilogy by Ann Leckie. I read the first one, Ancillary Justice, in Newfoundland, and just finished the second one, Ancillary Sword, yesterday. They require a fair amount of concentration to keep everything straight, and they’re not fluffy. But they are about Colonization Is Bad, Actually and What If AI Has Feelings, and What Makes A Human, which are three of my absolute favourite science fiction themes. I actually yelled out loud at the climax of Ancillary Sword. I love them.

Currently listening: Honestly, since I was writing so much last week, it’s Lo-fi Girl again. I don’t even know if it counts as listening. I put on my big headphones, hit play, make her full-screen on my second monitor, and then totally tune her out while I type away. What can I say? It works.

Currently eating: night cereal. Cereal for breakfast is No. Cereal at 10pm is Yes. These are the rules. Raisin Bran is the night cereal of choice; Cheerios are also good. Cheerios with a sliced banana are elite, and when my inner child needs a hug, that is what I have.


2 responses to “a momentous achievement”

  1. tu es la meilleure personne oui oui

    1. Oui oui!