I just finished the first draft of my book. I’d love to say I typed The End, but I didn’t. I’m not sure if anyone actually does that in real life. Plus, it’s not actually, y’know, finished.
When I first started writing, the idea of finishing a manuscript seemed like the pinnacle. And it’s a big achievement, believe me. This is the fourth time I’ve done it, and nothing quite beats the mix of emotions that come with writing that final paragraph. It’s only once you delve deeper that you realise the first draft is just the lump of clay you have to massage and coax into something that resembles a story. Even if it’s a very good first draft, it’s still not finished.
I started MISCONCEPTION (working title thanks to clever husband) immediately in April this year when I was hit with an idea that wouldn’t go away. Halfway through I changed my mind about how I was going to use points of views of my characters, then three quarters of the way through I realised that a big part of the first third of the story was actually back story, and that what was originally going to be the final act was the most important part of the book. Along the way new threads popped into my head which I’ll have to go back and sew into earlier scenes. As a result, my original estimate of 80,000 words blew out to 115,000.
So, yeah. It’s not finished. I’m now faced with the mother of all structural edits, but I’m kind of looking forward to it. Last month I went to GenreCon, a genre writing convention in Brisbane, and as with all writing type events, I came away with one of those ‘duh’ realisations. One of the speakers made a statement that I brushed off as obvious at the time, but over the three days I was in Brisbane, it crept up on me and I realised I’d made that very rookie mistake.
You’ll never learn if you never finish anything.
I have seen two manuscripts through to as close to The End as they can get without the professional editing process that usually comes with a publishing deal, but since then I’ve written one first draft that I still haven’t revisited, plus two others I started and then abandoned, then this. I caught myself thinking about what I was going to write next before it suddenly occurred to me – HANG ON A MINUTE.
So I’m going to give myself two weeks off (if I can wait that long), and then I’m going to read the full thing through and start editing. In a lucky coincidence, I’ve also just applied for an Australian Society of Authors mentorship, which I am crossing my fingers (please please writing gods please) that I am successful in gaining, as this would give me 25 hours of time with an author or professional editor to bring my manuscript to a publishable standard.
And now I shall wander the house aimlessly wondering what the hell I’m going to do with myself for the next two weeks.