When I Finish a Draft

June 15, 2017

“When you finish a draft of a poem, or short story, or novel, you make sure you go out and celebrate all night long because whether the world ever notices or not, whether you get it published or not, you did something most people never do: You started, stuck with and finished a creative work. And that is a triumph.” ~ Andre Dubus:

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Well, I’m yet again in another city while I’m posting! This time it’s Evanston, IL for our daughter’s graduation from Northwestern University. We couldn’t be prouder of our engineer! The all-U ceremony is tomorrow and the Engineering School is Saturday morning. Talk about milestones!

Yahoo!

I’m still pinching myself. I clicked “Send” Monday night around 10:30pm and my manuscript is now in the hands—or at least the In Boxes—of my group and my agent. It’s surreal and thrilling at the same time. I have lived and breathed the book for the last several weeks, but even more in the last 10 days and especially the last four days. I’d stop to eat, use the bathroom, and sleep (often fitfully). I feel very blessed that I can set aside chunks of uninterrupted time when I need to. 

I did my victory dance, gave my husband a high five, and shed a few tears of joy and relief before immediately jumping into a To Do list for the trip as well as things I’d put off because of the book.

Key Takeaways

Here are the things I learned during this whirlwind process.

  • Your story will always surprise you. I was so sure about the direction of the story at a certain point and then it felt like I was creating filler to get to the climax. I realized the main character needed more obstacles at that point. Then I had to figure out how to get her out of them! I also changed a few things that created that lovely domino effect of having to change so many other scenes to reflect that.
  • Hard copy changes take longer to input than I think they will. This happens every time. I print out a copy of the manuscript and mark it up. Hey, I only have a few changes on each page (and the occasional new or moved scene). How long can it take? HOURS and HOURS. I hope I remember that next time.
  • I need to brush up on tense usage. I switch between present and past as I jump around in time and I really confused myself at times. I need to re-learn some of that grammar stuff.  🙂
  • Breakneck writing/revising means less fun. This is still in the draft phase – I’m looking for big picture feedback right now – so it was more important to just get the story down. The writing felt like a chore at times–I just wanted to get a scene written so people would have the gist of what was happening. The next revision will be a lot more fun because I can take my time to develop the scenes the way I want to and they need to be developed.

So, lots to celebrate—the draft off my plate (for now) and our daughter’s next grand adventure, whatever that might be.