Two weeks ago, I spent 7 days writing the third draft of my novel. It’s the first time I’ve ever completed a story from beginning to end. The first and second draft of this story, written in short increments (usually just 15 minutes a day) over the past 2.5 years, were never really “finished.” I’d stop working on the draft a few chapters shy of the actual end because I was still working that part out. But this time I did it. I really finished the book (this version of it anyway).
I thought it would be interesting to capture some of my thoughts and feelings during this period. I wrote all day long, typically for 8 hours, with my longest sprint being 15 hours straight on the last day. However, the notes below don’t really capture one of my takeaways form this week of writing: it’s hard and slow-going before it becomes easy, but at some point, the words seem to just flow out of you. I hardly noticed that 15 hours had gone by, I was so engrossed in what I was doing. It was pretty amazing to reflect on this after the fact. Anyway, here are my little journals:
Day 1 – October 5
I am mentally drained as I write this. Not so much drained of my creativity like I can’t get out another word of prose, but more like I’m tired. I didn’t get a restful night sleep and I woke up several times, knowing full well that it would affect my first writing day as a “temporarily unemployed young writer.” Doesn’t that sound very Hemingway of me?
His is the only autobiography I’ve ever read and technically I didn’t read a bio. I read A Moveable Feast, which I got in Paris last year. It taught me one of the most important lessons that I’m going to try and abide by this week: Don’t write until your empty. Leave a little bit so that tomorrow, you have more to say.
So I’m stopping. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I want to start fresh with a better night’s sleep tomorrow.
I did manage to churn out over 1.5 chapters today. I’m doing that thing again where I come up with scenes out of nowhere, unplanned and uncalled for, but I think they’re going to work really well with the rest of the story.
My butt hurts from sitting around all the time, but it doesn’t matter because for once I’m doing something that I genuinely love. That I would gladly get sore muscles from. That I would starve myself for. That I would lose sleep over. This book, writing this story, is everything to me right now. Even my body can’t stop me from doing what my mind and heart so desperately need me to do right now.
I’m so close to finishing this draft right now. About four to five chapters away. It’s exciting, but also unbelievable. What I’ve discovered though is that this isn’t going to be the final draft before I give it to readers to edit/judge. The story is solid, where I want it to be, but it’s not how I want it to be. I’m reading Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series right now and let me tell you, the woman has a way with words. Her metaphors, her descriptions in dialogue, her prose is on point. Next draft after this will be about refining the story, making it better. But I’ve got the plot pretty down now. So I’m still deliriously happy. Tonight, I’m going to finish this story. For reals.
Day 7 – Oct 10/oct 11
So I think I’m a real, honest to goodness fiction writer now.
Because it’s 6:53am on Sunday morning and I am done writing my story.
I have the first word and the last word and everything in between.
I know more versions are coming, with edits to certain words, paragraphs even, are coming.
But this is the first time, this story feel honest to goodness done.
I’m so tired I can’t even come up with anymore adjectives. But I’m so happy. So incredibly satisfied and amazed and proud and excited.
I have the title too: [editor’s note: sorry, keeping this a secret for now!].
It fits. It’s right.
Everything is right.