GOALS: Finish The Novel

 

So, it’s almost the end of the year – almost time to take a good hard look at those GOALS you set yourself back in January, and see just how close you got to achieving them.

This year I only set myself two GOALS (though both of which can be broken into sub-goals). One of those goals included finishing my fourth novel. And a few days back I did just that.

I’ll be honest with you, it feels a bit weird.

I was beginning to think I’d never get here! My amazing spreadsheet, that calculates my likely completion date (based on how many words I’ve written since the start of the project), reckoned I’d be done by September – October at the latest. But that was assuming the novel would come in at 80,000 words – average novel length, and more or less what all three of my previous works of fiction weighed in at.

However, as I reached that epic word count the story was nowhere near done. It was the writing equivalent of running a marathon only to have someone tell you after twenty six gruelling miles that the finish line has been moved. I had to keep going.

Never mind. At least the majority of the book had been written. And the last time I ‘wrote a novel’… and the time before that… there was something about having the end in sight that propelled me forwards. A sudden sprint to the finish line. But this time, the closer I got to the end of the story the slower I got.

Part of that was because I wasn’t entirely sure how the story should end. In fact, if it hadn’t of been for my chums in my writing group I might still be searching for that elusive ending.

Even when I had the ending, those last couple of chapters were extremely troublesome. This morning I spent almost 5 hours writing approximately two hundred words. That’s 40 words an hour. Less than a word a minute.

But…

It’s done.

Finally.

Except of course…

It’s not.

Starting next week I’m editing: I already have a pile of ‘go back and fix this’ notes. Then I’ll print the whole thing off, and do ‘the big read through’. When I’m done with drowning my sorrows (because traditionally at this point most authors think they’ve written a massive pile of horse poo), I’ll take my big red pen and start slashing and hacking.

I’ll be honest with you, the last two times I quite enjoyed this part – this is the moment when it actually starts to feel like I’ve written a book, something I can be proud of. But I suspect books might be a little like children; you might have had something to do with their creation, you might have created others, but it’s a mistake to let your guard down.

When I’m finally done slashing and hacking I’ll give the book to the half dozen trusted folk who have been waiting patiently to read it. My ‘first readers’.

And when I’m done working through their comments (which could easily range from ‘not sure she should be wearing a yellow dress in this scene’ to ‘this ending doesn’t make any kind of sense’) well… then I’ll send it to my agent.

And that’s when – ‘scuse the language – sh*t gets real.

In my experience, feedback from Agents tends to fall into two broad categories: Either they like your book, but have two or three suggested changes (those changes being ‘the beginning’, ‘the middle’, and ‘the end’), or… they don’t like your book, and would rather you’d written something else.

But that’s a long way off. Months away.

For now I’m just going to celebrate the end of this stage, and feel proud that I got to this point. Again. My fourth novel. My eighth book. That in itself, isn’t bad going.

So, check back again soon to see how the editing’s going. In the meantime, if you’re a writer, feel free to share your experiences of getting to the end of a first draft. And if you’re not a writer, but have always fancied writing a book, feel free to ask me a question or share your novel writing attempts in the comments.

Now then, where did I put my red pen?


Struggling for Christmas Present ideas? Then why not solve all your Christmas Present Conundrums in one hit by visiting The Novel Coffee Shop (98 London Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1PG), on Saturday 1st December 2018 between 1:30pm and 4pm, where I’ll be signing copies of all my books, along with Sci-Fi author Claire Buss, and Children’s Fantasy author Daisy Bourne.

Click the flyer below to see a bigger version!

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Doing absolutely nothing

So last Sunday was a Boxing Day.

As per the Boxing Day Rules it had been booked out in my diary for some time, and also as per the rules I had no plans whatsoever. So what did I do with my day of unscheduled free-form fun?

Absolutely nothing.

There was a little facebook activity, a half hearted attempt at sorting through the edits for my novel, but other than that I pretty much spent the day sleeping, or sitting in front of the TV. And blimey-o’riley did it feel good.

I’d spent much of the previous day travelling back from Devon in horrendous bank-holiday traffic, and when I eventually made it home home, Essex was in the midst of a freak monsoon. Seriously. We had two inches of rainwater in thirty minutes, and it didn’t stop raining for another thirteen hours.

Whether any of this was responsible for the way I felt on Sunday morning I’m not really sure. All I knew is that once I’d dragged myself out of bed I didn’t really want to do anything more taxing than make a cup of tea, and sit in front of the tube. And as per the Boxing Day Rules that’s absolutely fine.

I pass this on because I had a ‘happy talkie’ session the other week with a reader who was beating herself up for not having enough items on her ‘potential-Boxing Day‘ list. She’d somehow got it into her head that although Boxing Day isn’t planned, it’s still a day when LOTS happens (hence why it requires a list). But that’s not the case at all.

Boxing Day is a day for you. It’s a day to recharge. Be in the moment. Do whatever you fancy. The list is there simply to safe guard you against boredom, or in case you’re not feeling particularly inspired, but it’s by no means essential. If all you want to do on Boxing Day is chillax – as my niece would say – then that’s fine too.

Which reminds me very much of this daft song from Bruno Mars, which you can view by clicking the big play button below (or by clicking here if you’re reading this in an email)

And if you enjoyed that you might find this version (by Megan Nicole) equally entertaining. I particularly like the way she ‘cleans up’ some of the lyrics whilst her Mum’s sitting in the background reading a self-help book.

Feel free to share your Boxing Day experiences, questions, or observations in the comments box below, or over on the facebook page.