It’s been a long, hard slog reaching this point but I am now one step closer to my final destination. The changes I decided to make to my work-in-progress, after it was last edited, have been completed and my manuscript is undergoing (what should be) one last bout of editing. Much to my surprise I am very pleased with the state of my final draft, so I feel quietly confident it will shortly be deemed fit for publication, once it’s been looked over. If my assessment is correct I should be able to give the finished story to my beta readers before the end of next week.
This novel is proving to be uncharted territory for me, in more ways than one. For a start, it is the first novel length story I’ve ever completed. I imagine some people will find this news unremarkable, but for myself it was a landmark moment to finally overcome a previously insurmountable hurdle. Although creative writing has been a passion of mine since early childhood, until now I had never successfully moved beyond writing short stories, and the rare novella; all my previous attempts to write a novel proved to be futile endeavours. Every failure was invariably the product of one of two things: either my indiscipline caused me to abandon a work-in-progress, after becoming distracted by one of the new story ideas constantly forming in my head; or my perfectionism would convince me that my work isn’t up to snuff and should therefore be discarded. The end result of this continuous failure was that I eventually came to doubt my ability to ever write a novel.
In February of last year when I began writing my debut novel in earnest, my self-doubt was still very much a consideration. I set myself a word count goal of 80k words (as it seems to be viewed as an appropriate length for novels for adult readers) and even then I was convinced I would struggle to reach that target; though in hindsight I shouldn’t have been. I still remember the shock I felt, late last year, upon realising I had gone past the 125k words mark and my story wasn’t finished yet. It was an important moment because, for the first time, I realised that not only was I capable of completing a novel, I would actually do so.
The other aspect of the uncharted territory my novel has brought me to, is this is the first time I have written a story with the explicit intention of having it read by other people. I have always written for my own enjoyment, and very rarely shared my writing with anyone else. Every story I’ve ever produced, until now, was written entirely for myself because who better to write a tale I want to read? This is unlikely to ever really change even though I’ve finally reached the point where I am more than happy for my writing to be read (and hopefully enjoyed) by other readers. I will continue to be the first audience for my stories; if anyone else reads them it is a welcome bonus.
Looking back, it’s hard to describe the feeling of elation I experienced after typing the last sentence of the (unedited) final draft. Obviously there was relief, but there was also an overwhelming sense of accomplishment at having completed a journey that, at various points along the way, I had despaired of ever completing. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call it a life changing milestone. Now that I have proved to myself that I can author a novel, I know I can do it again, and in all likelihood doing so will be an easier experience in future.
Thus concludes this update. I will endeavour to post on my blog much more frequently from this juncture; I can promise a steady drip of information about my soon to be debut novel in the coming days, and what it was like writing it; plus assorted ramblings about my preferred literary genres, in general.
Until then, thanks for reading.