So last week I finished the first draft of my second novel, “Holding Cold, Dead Hands” (working title). There are a lot of different thoughts and feelings going through my mind right now so I thought that I would go ahead and lay them out for everyone to read. For those of you who have written a book, I’m sure a lot of this will feel familiar. But if you’ve written your book and experienced something different, I’d like to hear about that, too! So anyway…
First, I’m feeling a great sense of accomplishment. Right? Who wouldn’t? I just cracked out 88,542 words, finishing a draft of a story that I had been working on for a long time. I’ve been working toward a goal for a long time now and I achieved what I set out to do! I can look at my story and say “I did that.” That gives one a sense of pride that few things in my life have done. It’s a mental marathon, making yourself sit down and write, hitting those word goals every day, not letting self-doubt stop you, and reaching the finish line (though it really isn’t the finish line at all). I’m proud. I’m ten feet tall. I’m the best writer that has ever walked the earth. This feeling is second only to when my daughter learns something new. That sense of accomplishment beats all else, but this one is damn good, too.
Second, I’m feeling apprehension. Somehow, this one might be even more powerful than my sense of accomplishment. Is the story I wrote any good? Am I going to review it and hate every word that I read? Am I going to have to scrap the whole thing because it’s not up to my standards? I know that most of my doubts have no basis, or very little basis, but that knowledge certainly doesn’t shut my mind up. Because while I’m sure I won’t hate every word that I read, I know that I will hate some of them. I know that I won’t have to scrap the whole thing, but I know that I’m going to cut out huge portions. I know that my story is good, but maybe it’s not great. All of these thoughts and worries are constantly swirling around my head. While writing, I can push them to the side and plow on through, getting words on page and not worrying about any sort of editing as I go. But now that I’m done, I’m going to have to face the harsh truths of the quality of my work. I know it’s not trash, but it will need a lot of rewrites and edits to make it a work of art.
Third, I’m feeling excited to start something new. When I’m writing a book, it is pretty much my sole focus until it is finished. I live and breath this one story for as long as it takes to get it done. Sure, I write the occassional short story and flash fiction to give my mind a break from the book, but the grander ideas I have for stories are pushed to the wayside until this book is done. Since starting “Holding Cold, Dead Hands” I can think of at least four new ideas for books that I would like to try and figure out. That’s not to mention the continuation of the story that I started in my first book. While writing “Hands” has been an absolute joy, and I’m certainly not done working on it, it’s exciting that I’m one more milestone closer to starting a new long-form adventure.
Fourth, I’m feeling dread. While this is similar to apprehension, to me it is distinctly different. While I don’t relish the idea of facing my shortcomings, I wouldn’t say that I dread it. What I do dread, however, is the querying process. I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t found a home for my first novel, despite many queries sent to many agents. I knew that it was a distinct possibility going into it and I resolved myself that rejection would not get me down. An aspiring author I was and an aspiring author I am. Yet I certainly dread the thought of starting that process over again. It is not fun and the way that many agents interact these days is impersonal at best, so it is not enlightening in any way, either. Unfortunately, it is a necessary part of trying to get your book published. Going directly to the publishers isn’t really a viable option as many won’t even accept your submission without an agent. I may wind up self-publishing to Amazon or exploring similar options, but I haven’t decided my next move, yet. So, suffice it to say, starting all that over again is something that I’m 100% dreading. But you got to do what you got to do, as they say.
Finally, I’m feeling a sense of hope. Each novel finished is one more story that people can consume and enjoy. While getting them published and earning some money back on my time is ideal, as long as they eventually make it into the hands of people who appreciate them and gain something from them, I’ll be happy. I would love to make some real money from writing, but the whole point is to tell good stories and make an impact on people. Any writer worth his or her salt is focused on telling good stories over everything else. Money and notoriety are all well and good (I’ll take both, please) but being a good storyteller is first and foremost in my mind. So, I’m hopeful. Each new story and novel is a chance to give a good story to people. And that’s what this is all about.
So that’s what’s going on in my writer’s head at the moment. It’s a maelstrom, but I’m navigating it pretty well, I believe. The good far outweighs the bad, I hope it didn’t seem otherwise. I am happy that I’ve finished draft #1. More than anything I’m thrilled to have this first go finished. There’s still lots of work to be done, but this is one hurdle passed over.
If people are interested in hearing more about the process, let me know! For those who have written books, does this sound familiar to you or was your experience different? I’d love to hear about it.