On Nearing Completion of My First Novel…
It feels weird.
I’ve tried a novel twice before. Both of those times, I just wasn’t ready. I had ideas, but lacked the confidence, work ethic, tenacity, and breadth of vision needed to finish.
This is different, though. I have the emotional maturity needed to see the project through. I have enough experience writing short stories to know that the book’s premise really is a “novel idea” and not just a souped-up “short story idea”. I have a work ethic that pretty much demands that I generate 5,000 words a week on the project. So far, that’s worked out well (with just a few exceptions for things like…sigh…vacations, or when short stories have hijacked my imagination and demanded to be written right that second).
I am 110% aware that there’s no guarantee this novel (tentatively titled The Sober Assassin) will even sell, and so it’s premature to blog about this as a “forthcoming project”, etc. But I just feel the need to share my progress, because it just feels awfully damn affirming to be nearing the end. If nothing else, I now have a much better idea what the inside guts/clockwork machinery of a novel looks like, and I have at least some knowledge of how the thing works. I’m approaching this in the same way I approached marketing my short stories. If the novel doesn’t sell, I’ll write another one. And if that novel doesn’t sell, I’ll write another one. And I’ll keep that up, ad infinitum/nauseum until the right person says “yes” to me. If I keep that up, continuously, over the next forty or fifty years of life I have left (optimistically speaking), I’m bound to at least sell one of the buggers. I mean, I can’t be that bad a writer, can I?
I mentioned that it feels weird. Here’s what I mean. For months I’ve been driven by a dedication to see this book through. And now that the end of the first draft is in sight (only another 10,000-20,000 words to go), I guess I feel a little sad. I love the characters. I’m going to miss spending time with them. Yes, that probably sounds pretentious or just plain goofy, but that’s how I feel. It’s like having a group of co-workers collaborating with you on a project for several months, and then having everyone disperse to go their own way. It’s almost enough to lead me to put off the ending. Almost enough to just let the characters linger there in suspended animation, with the book 90% done, and not “pull the trigger” to finish it.
I mean, reality check — as characters, their whole raison d’etre is to be read. So I have to finish the book and get on to the next steps. I mean, I know that there will be lots of work to do. Polishing the manuscript. Editing it until it’s the best it can be. Working on the synopsis, etc. I know this isn’t the end, by a long shot. But it will be the end of the creative aspect of the project and the start of the refining aspect.
And I like the creating part, that’s all.
Surely I’m not the only newer author who feels that way. Has anyone else experienced the sort of feelings I’m describing?