Last night, December 6th at 8:50 pm, I wrote the last line of my first novel.
I typed my final word, saved my document and just stared at the screen. A few seconds later, I poked my husband to get his attention and pointed at my laptop without saying a word. He knew what had just happened. He smiled and pulled me in for a big hug. Then, I cried.
After a year and a month of work on this thing, the first draft is in the bag. Twenty-five days ahead of schedule and everything! It feels kind of surreal. I’ve been living with this thing in one capacity or another for over a year. Yes, I know that I’m nowhere near complete with what will become the finished product, but it’s strange to think that this chapter (pun intended) of this journey has come to a close.
I’ve seen this story morph, take left turns and send me reeling. The core idea of what it was intended to be is still there, along with three of the characters–but so much has changed since that first kernel of an idea that looking back, it’s hard to imagine the first drafted outline ever becoming a novel.
I’m SO GLAD I changed my mind about the plot and my main character’s chosen occupation.
So, now what? I printed out the last few chapters of the hard copy this morning. I hole-punched them and relegated them to their binders with the other chapters. I told myself I needed to wait one week until I even dared to look at them. Time to breathe a sigh of relief, time to take a little break. I needed to get away from the story completely, so I could begin the editing process with fresh eyes.
When my son was off from school over the summer, I edited the first twenty-ish chapters in my hard copy. (There was no way I was going to get any productive writing done with Mr. Jabber-pants at my side for three months!) During that time, I added some key plot points and scenes. Even with those chapters already “looked at” once, they’ll still need attention. My plan is, after my week hiatus, to take my hard copy and red pen and edit. After that is complete, I’ll let it sit for another week. That’ll get me to XMAS-time, so it’s perfect. After the holidays are done and my kid is back in school, I’ll do one more edit. Then, I’ll implement all the changes and add the new scenes to a new manuscript file. Up until this point, I’ve always written each chapter in a separate document. In talking to author friends, it seems to be a fifty-fifty mix of preference when it comes to what do in that regard. Some do one whole document with the entire kit and caboodle, some do separate chapters. I’m still not sure which route I’ll take.
When all the changes are in the second draft, I’ll let my husband and beta editor read it. After I get the changes from my beta, I’ll do the third draft. Then…
Well? The next step approaches.
Looking into publishing options is something I’ve thought of, but never really put too much effort into up until this point. My main goal was to finish the damn thing first, then think about what to do next. I have a friend who has published a book, so I plan to pick her brain (over pub food and a beer) on what to do next.
As I close this chapter of the journey with my first novel, I turn another page and move on to the next scene. Massive editing. Cover art. Publishing. Success! (cross your fingers!)
And then, I have to write two more…