In the course of a single week, I’ve finished the second draft of my novel, and moved into a new apartment.
To say its been a bit of a week would be an understatement.
First, the book.
Finishing this draft was a very different feeling than the first. When I finished the first on New Year’s Eve 2015, it was like ending with a bang. I’d written 11,900 words in a single day, and as I finished, I immediately left my house to go to a friends New Year’s party. I rang in 2016 standing on the corner of 11th and Chestnut, watching fireworks in the distance, the joy and adrenaline of finishing coursing through me as the song ‘My Shot’ from Hamilton played in my headphones. I was as high on life as is possible to be without any substances. I had done what I thought was impossible, and it the words of my buddy Mal Reynolds, I felt mighty.
But draft two? It was the lamb to draft one’s lion. I finished at just around 3:45am on August 1st, having written about almost 8,000 words in the course of a day. Because it was so very late at night (or early in the morning depending on how you spin it) there was no one to celebrate with, and so I found myself typing the last phrase, to be continued, and then sitting back in my chair with a heavy, happy sigh. I looked at my computer screen for a good couple minutes, just in disbelief that I’d done it. Start to finish, draft one took six months, but draft two? Start to finish took nineteen months. In that time, I started and failed a campaign to publish it. I moved apartments and changed jobs. I went through every phase of imposter’s syndrome, self-doubt, and disappointment, some days thinking the first draft had been it—I’d never be able to get it right and actually get this book done. But that moment alone in my apartment, starting at the finished count and the words to be continued, I felt something I hadn’t the first time—this time, the story was whole.
The first draft had been entirely without a second act, and was RIDDLED with some of the worst plot holes and gaps in character development, mostly because at the time, there was still so much I’d yet to learn about writing. And while I am by no means an expert at it now, I’m certainly better off than I was then. Finding the close knit group of writing friends I’ve always longed to was game changing. Spending months and months reworking things and scrapping drafts and making detailed outlines and developing richer backstories informed the work in immeasurable ways. Every minute I spent in that year and a half was necessary to get me to that moment in the early morning hours of August 1st. And somehow, sitting there with the draft finished, I managed to have all of this hit me at once, but in a way that felt like a calming wave of emotion.
Finishing this draft wasn’t fireworks, it was stargazing—still beautiful, powerful, and inspiring, but peaceful.
The months ahead will now be focused on edits. Some of the chapters towards the end may need a bit of rewriting, and other chapters towards the middle will certainly need some tweaks and touch ups, but I don’t know that I’ll need another rewrite like this one. As I said, the story felt more whole this time. I feel like I’ve largely got to paper the story I’m trying to tell, and now its a matter of fine tuning it so it comes across the way its meant to. I’m incredibly excited for this process, because once I’ve finished the polishing, I begin a whole new phase—finding an agent.
2016 was the year where I tried something different. I thought non-traditional publishing was an exciting and perfect way to go about getting my book out there. My experiences since then have showed me that may not be all it is cracked up to be, and while self-publishing is still always an option on the table, I think I owe it to myself and to my book to try the traditional way. Who knows if that will pan out? Maybe I’ll get dozens of rejections like my girl Madeline L’Engle and when I’m about to give up, find the right person. Or maybe rejection after rejection will lead me to putting the story out there on my own terms. I’m not sure what will happen, but after all I’ve been through on the journey to tell this story, I’m certain that things will pan out exactly as their meant to. My faith in that fact is stronger than ever.
And so to my move…
It is perfectly fitting that I should move apartments after finishing the second draft, because now in every possible way, I enter a brand new phase of my life and this book’s production. It was living at my old apartment building that I came to the conclusion to go back to working on Alteria, and so as I close that chapter and move on to somewhere new, so too does my story move on.
I can’t wait to see what comes next, but until then, there’s work to do.