I usually put these updates on my Tumblr thingy, but this one is of particular significance, so I’m putting it front and center on my blog.
I’m pretty sure I just finished the final draft, including revisions, of the novel I’ve been working on for a little over a year. As a matter of fact, I’m going to send this final draft to my editor right now. I’ll be right back.
…okay, I’m back. I know it took you seconds to get from the end of the previous sentence to this one, but if you are wondering, it took me about half the duration of “Waiting For The Man,” which is part of the playlist I made for this novel, to write and send the email, with the manuscript attached. It’s kind of cool that I just feel excited and enthused about it, instead of feeling like I’m going to throw up.
I’ve been working on the last two chapters of this book for a long time. The feedback from all the beta readers, regardless of which revision they read, has pretty consistently said “[lots of feedback] and the ending needs work, because it just … sort of … ends. Abruptly.” I took that feedback to heart, and watched many self-imposed deadlines race by me while my creative self just refused to give me anything for months. Eventually, I decided to stop randomly flipping over mental rocks, and expecting to find the ending, fully formed, sitting there waiting for me. Eventually, I accepted that the only way I’d find the ending was to sit down, commit to a deadline that I would not miss, and write as many different endings as I needed to, until one of them was the right one.
So I tried out a lot of different endings while over the last couple of weeks. I’ve written and thrown away probably ten thousand words in the last few days, alone, until yesterday. I knew that I’d end up cutting nearly everything I’d written, but I also knew that all the pieces I needed to assemble into the right ending were there … I just couldn’t see them.
I turned it in and spent three hours unwinding in Horizon: Zero Dawn (I’m late to the party but what a great game it is!) before I went to bed. My editor sent it back with some notes and suggestions while I was sleeping, and when I looked at it this morning, I knew that I was going to finish today. Which is good, because today is the Totally Official It Has To Be Done Today deadline!
I made a joke about how I was going to drag myself over broken glass, only to find an ending that is totally obvious once I see it. That wasn’t too far off. I love the way this story ends, now. I hope it hits the same emotional notes in the readers as it hits in me, and I hope that someone who hasn’t followed the process with me won’t even be aware of how much of a struggle it was to find it, because OMG IT IS SO OBVIOUSLY THE ONLY WAY IT COULD END.
Sometimes, as an actor, I have to try out performance choices that I think are wrong, just to confirm that they’re wrong, and to give myself the chance to discover something I didn’t know was in me, or in the material. In those cases, it’s just a matter of spending time in rehearsal and preparation, following the map that the writer has given me. It was a heck of an experience to do essentially the same thing as a writer, without the map, because the map didn’t exist until I made it.
Holy shit, you guys, I wrote a novel.