Tonight, I wrote the final sentence of the first draft of the first novel I’ve ever started and finished. This book has gone through an interesting evolution. The first time I ever wrote the title of the book on a sheet of paper was in June 2012. Back then, I thought I was writing a poem, but I wasn’t. My journal is full of failed drafts of a poem about a relationship that had dried up a year earlier. It just never worked. I thought the idea was done, and I closed the journal to the idea of ever writing the poem of a year-long drought that lasted from the last day the speaker saw his love until the day the poem is uttered at least.
Then I got lucky. I found inspiration and I started writing a lot. This was right about March of 2013. I wrote a lot of poems in those days, and a short story or two. Some of those have even been published.
And then, I wrote it–the first sentence of a prose version of “A Year Since the Rain.” At that moment in the early spring of 2013, I thought I was writing another short story, but the characters took the story away from me, and soon I realized that the story of Alan and the women in his life was a bigger story than I had ever realized. I finally accepted that I was writing a novel.
There was a lot of human emotion coming out of me and the characters in those days, and the very human story of Alan’s heartbreak and desperation was being played out in front of the backdrop of a simultaneously magical and real place. Characters could control the weather and travel through dreams. But they all came out of me. They are mine. And now they are on the page.
I always heard that Virginia Woolf felt great pain when she published her books–a kind of writerly postpartum depression. I’m not sure that I feel that, but I do feel a lot of things.
I’m worried, for one. I know it’s nowhere near long enough. I know that it will be longer. I already know how it will be longer. That doesn’t change the fact that hit ‘save’ on a first draft that is shorter than I wanted it to be tonight. I’ll be alright on this, though. There are massive additions coming, since some characters became more important than I thought they would be originally. So length isn’t a real concern.
But I am scared. And this might be the real significant emotion. I’m getting closer to sharing this book, maybe not with the world, but with some people, and that’s scary. I believe in it, though, and I think the story is a beautiful mess of humanity and magic, and I think you’ll like it. I just have to deal with the initial fear.
Soon, I’ll be asking for beta readers and other such things. Tonight, I just needed to ramble.
How do you feel when you finish drafting something that you’re writing for public consumption?