I’m starting off this Monday morning a little tired after staying up to finish the draft of my second novel (which was, weirdly, my first story sale) Bitter Cold. I wrapped it up at almost exactly midnight, which I’m taking as a good omen. Now that the draft is done, I’m comfortable giving folks a sneak peek at the cover:
Finishing my first novel was in many ways easier than finishing the second one, even with the head start of having the story complete in a shorter form.
The first one was a “short story” that kept getting bigger during draft until it became clear it was really a short novel. I jumped into the story because my precious daughter Maddie wanted a Snow White tale, and then threw a ton of fun and thought-provoking elements into it to make the story fresh enough to hold my interest. In some ways, it was a novel that wrote itself almost by accident. Then when the self-published version garnered the attention of a small press, I was able to come back to it months later and beat it into a much better shape with solid editorial help.
This time around, I was starting with a story which was in many ways an emotional minefield. Both elements of the story itself, and the publishing journey of this particular work, were intensely difficult to revisit. I vastly underestimated how much more difficult it would be to expand an 18,000 word novella into a 40,000 word novel than it had been to expand my 40,000 word novel into a stronger 50,000 word novel. And I let personal drama completely derail me about 3/4 of the way through the process, and it took a while to get my mojo back.
But now, all the scenes are written, all the plot holes (I could find) are plugged, and after a quick polishing pass it’s going out to beta readers for feedback. Whatever happens from this point forward, I can say I’ve written two novels. Which is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
And I probably will celebrate, once I get some rest. It was a tiring weekend for my household as a whole. My husband was on call with his job at the local water utility, and ended up called out on a main break and working 23 out of 27 hours straight. My brother-in-law, sisters and nieces and nephews came out Saturday. The end result was more things being finished: namely the flooring in my new bedroom and closet, and the lighting fixtures in those rooms getting installed. Also, a giant pot of bean soup and cornbread muffins being consumed.
Like the novel, this room project has been an open loop in my brain, a thing unfinished nagging at the back of my mind and making it hard to rest easy. It’s been even more frustrating once it got to the point where I couldn’t just knock tasks out myself. I’m an industrious person, and I rocked the demolition phase, but everyone who knows me (including me) is pretty certain I shouldn’t be handling power tools.
At this point, it’s looking pretty good for us to have the whole thing finished by my birthday. Maybe by Halloween, when we typically host all and sundry for the epic Trick or Treating provided by my small town neighborhood.
The homestretch of any big goal is often the hardest part. At this point, everyone involved is just kind of over the whole thing. You’re all tired, you’re all a little grumpy, and it’s still not done yet, and you sort of suspect you’ll never cross that finish line.
But once you do, once you put that foot over the line? It feels amazing, and for just a second, the tired fades away and you remember why you started in the first place.