No, I'm not pregnant. But I did finish my novel yesterday! That is to say, I finished the (very) rough draft. There's still much to be done, but I'm so thankful to have reached this milestone. Ecstatic, actually, because I wanted to give up so many times but God and my friends and family wouldn't let me.
The idea came to me last January during a bout of insomnia, but I didn't actually put my fingers to the keyboard until March 8, 2010. I wrote the first five chapters, about 60,000 words (way too long!), on my computer, and then I switched over to writing in a notebook.
I filled up one large notebook, a pretty one that I made at MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) a couple years ago. I like to think it's like the journals used by one of my main characters, Rachel.
I then moved to the purple journal on the left, which I filled about a third of the way. The spiral bound journal on top is where I put the plot outline and character details, and the little flip-top book with the "B" is where I wrote ideas that came to me throughout the day, even when I was driving. (I waited for a stoplight to fish it out of my purse!)
The Sharpie pen is the third one that I completely spent. I prayed yesterday that God would let the ink keep flowing until I finished it; I didn't have another one like it, and it is such a pleasure to write with that type of pen. My first two Sharpie pens were a gift from my friend Jenny, who has been a big encouragement to me through this project.
Writing in a notebook took me back to my childhood, when I had ink-stained fingers from all the stories I wrote in my school spirals. I was able to be more creative after making this switch because it was much harder to "tinker," and my mind had to slow down a bit to let my hands catch up. But I did manage to do quite a lot of rearranging, as you can see from the random sample below.
I did most of the writing in small bits, like at ballet and soccer practice and the hair salon (under the dryer). But I did take a couple of days off work at the end of 2010 to work on my writing. I also went to a scrapbooking retreat where I did nothing but write for a whole weekend. That was awesome. I was able to get lost in the characters' stories and to stop the constant editing.
I was able to finish yesterday due to some help from my friend Christina, who has prayed for me faithfully through over a year of writing. She's been gracious about my leaving her hanging after reading the first five chapters, and she's anxious to see the rest once I get it typed up. Anyway, she let Allyson come over for a playdate while I went to Starbucks to work on the manuscript. (Leslie, you'll be interested to know that I had an iced chai latte. It was good, but not as good as yours!)
I couldn't believe how many people were there at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon. There were gabbing young women, a couple of ladies having some sort of political powwow, a screaming newborn, and two men endlessly smoking cigars. I was able to block all of that out until some kids about Allyson's age started racing around the tables shrieking. That's when I moved inside for my last 30 minutes.
I came so close, but had one more scene left to write. I finished it when Bill went to his 11:00 hockey game. I usually write at the dining room table downstairs, but last night I wanted to go to my Secret Place, my prayer closet where I've spent a lot of time praying over this book. It felt so good kneeling on the floor and penning those last few pages.
Now I need to type up the rest of the manuscript, break it into chapters, figure out all the dates on Rachel's journal entries, and do a bit of revising. I estimate that I'll need to chop about a third of what I've written! After that, I'll set it aside for eight weeks and work on other things or just have some fun reading. After that break, I'll pick up the book and try to read it as an outsider, not as the author. I'll see where I need more detail, less detail, more emotion, etc. And I'll see where I called a character by the wrong name or gave him two different colors of hair (I hope, anyway).
And then I'll send it out to my focus readers, including Christina, and get their feedback. Would anyone else like to volunteer as a focus reader? I promise not to leave you hanging like I did Christina A., Angela, Diana, and Christina W.
As for the rest of you, I hope you'll read the finished product in a year or two. And please keep me in your prayers. Thank you for all your support, and simply for being such faithful readers. It was you who gave me the courage to dream and the confidence to turn my dream into reality.