Well, now I’ve finished the third draft of my first novel, “You Shook Me”. I thought I’d write a quick note, while thinking about this experience is fresh on my mind.
Completing the first draft was an enormous accomplishment, one I’m told only about 10% of authors have done. And I was very proud of it. You can see my note about that here. I still am very proud of it. Because completing that first draft was something I had been trying to do, in some way, shape, or form, for decades. I’ve begun about sixteen novels. I’ve completed one. All the ones I began before the first complete one taught me something, and I am grateful for them all.
But this one, this one taught me what it’s like to finish something. And once I had finished it, I had to keep going. I couldn’t just let it moulder, half complete. It had to be polished. That polishing took quite some time because I had a baby. Having a full time job, a little one, a boyfriend, and being pregnant, well…that’s hard work. The first draft had to sit a while and wait for me to be a little less distracted. Also, if you’re familiar with what I wrote and the fact that I can only go through one publisher, then I have no shame telling you I was scared. Even if you don’t know that, know that I was scared. Afraid they’d hate it. That it would never be ready to give them. That they wouldn’t even want to look at it.
I’m still afraid of those things. But now that I’m less busy, and the baby is a little older, I pushed those fears aside. Because the bottom line is I love my story. I don’t know if that’s acceptable in writer circles, and frankly, I don’t care. I am the only person in the whole wide world I know for certain will read that story. As far as I know, I could be the only person to ever love it. So guess who I wrote it for?
The one, single publisher?
You, hypothetical reader?
My kids? My mom? My boyfriend?
Nope, Nope, Nope.
All those people in school who made fun of me?
I wrote it for me. Because there was a story I wanted to tell. Not to them, not to you, to me. And I love it. I love it so much, I had to finish it. I had to polish it, turn it, and polish it again.
And I tell you what, now that it’s in its third draft, it’s really coming along. I really like it now. It probably still sounds like a first novel, but I will tell you that I am intimately familiar with the subject matter, that I am totally in love with the characters, and that I am not only satisfied with but happy with the story I have told.
So now, with a new crop of beta readers and a couple old ones (including my ridiculously supportive and wonderful boyfriend), I am reading the third draft. When that’s done, I have a little plan for it.
First, I am going to see it in print, no matter what. I am going to print and bind it using my own two hands. A labor of love. And I’ll have it autographed by the people who portray the characters who live in the universe in which it is set. Because they are part of it, too.
And second, I am sending a letter off to the publisher. Following their submission guidelines. I will hope they decide to give me a chance. I’ve been writing for a long time, but I have not been published all that much. You can find most of my published work on my links page. What I do not have, is immediately provable, available experience. What I do have is my ability to tell a story. What I do have is passion. I deeply care about the world in which my story is set. I set the story there on purpose, not as an afterthought. That universe is real to me. They’ll love the book, of that I am certain, should they choose to read it. That is out of my hands, however, and so I’ll just keep doing what I do.
Writing, and loving what I write. It doesn’t really matter about anything else.