I’ve been working on my current novel since 2012, but this year I set myself the challenge of finishing the first draft, so at least I would have an idea of the shape of the novel, and I would have something concrete to work with, instead of just faffing about and perfecting each scene as I go along.
I was so excited about this: I set myself word count goals and I got past the tricky 60K mark, which was where I always got stuck. When it was finished, I would shout it from the rooftops: I’d tell everyone, share it on social media, celebrate with various forms of alcohol and food. I could finally say I had written a novel in its entirety, even if it would need a shitload of editing before I could unleash it on the world.
Two days ago, I finished it. And I told no one. I sat on the floor and watched the pages print out, and I realised that I felt nothing. No elation, no relief. Not even disappointment. I’ve felt more excitement after finishing a short story. It’s not the fact that it isn’t ‘finished’ (in the sense that it will need that shitload of editing I mentioned earlier). It’s more that I can’t really believe it. Or maybe I don’t want to believe it. I’m going to let it sit for a while before I start editing, which is quite a standard thing to do. But I just don’t want to make a Big Thing of it. Perhaps I’m saving that for when it’s ready to be published. Or perhaps I’m scared that it might never be published. I can’t see it being that though, as I’ve always told myself that my first novel might not make the grade. That happens sometimes. I have other novel ideas that may turn out to be better.
It’s fine, though. I’m pleased I’ve written it, and I’m glad I’ve proved to myself that I can do it. I have the stamina and drive to finish an actual novel draft. I’m also looking forward to getting in about it with an editing scalpel, and I can already pinpoint where I’ll need to do a lot of work and how I can strengthen it. It’s weird though. I thought it would be a bigger deal than this. I have written an entire, 80000 word novel. But I feel strangely detached from it. Not just from the manuscript but from the whole process. It’s been – and still is -very weird.