So you’ve just finished writing your first novel… how do you feel?
I feel elated that I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. It’s a lot like the feeling I had when I lost my first ten pounds with SparkPeople. It feels great to set a goal and achieve it. It gives me a wonderful “I can do anything I set my mind to” feeling. I feel pretty proud of myself. I’m definitely walking a little taller today, shoulders back, sticking my chest out just a little bit. I’m incredibly thankful for Tim, who supported me and encouraged me and did everything he could to facilitate my writing. I have a new appreciation for those writers whose work I love, Bertrice Small, Jim Butcher, Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling. I know when a lot of those folks got their start; they were working another full-time job, or a couple part-time ones, to make ends meet. The fact that they persevered and ended up at the top of their respective genres is amazing to me.
I’m also glad to be getting other parts of my life back. I haven’t seen the inside of my gym in almost three weeks. I want to get back to Zumba. I would also like to see Tim for more time in an evening other than to say, “Honey, can you bring me more coffee?” I’ve got new books to read and TV shows to catch up on. This last week, catching up and driving to reach the word count goal and the end of my story also involved a lot of late nights. It will be nice to wake up in the morning not feeling still tired.
Other thoughts on my NaNoWriMo experience, I’ve developed a tick now of checking word count at the end of every paragraph, even when it doesn’t matter, because it’s for my blog. I also learned you don’t have to map out your entire story start to finish before you start writing it. I think if you have interesting characters that are real and alive to you, they’ll help you get there. There were times while I was writing that I panicked because I had no idea how to resolve my plot. I had created conflict and problems, but I hadn’t created the solution. So I just kept writing. I wrote dialogue and relationships and flirting and then somehow my characters came up with the solution and told me how they were going to pull this off.
I’m looking forward to starting the editing process. What I’m really wanting to do is sit down and read my own story, and see if it makes me cringe like listening to myself speak or sing on a recording does. I’m sure I’m going to find gaps and plot holes and grammatical errors galore, but that is what December and January are for.
While I’m happy and excited about all I’ve learned, I’m also feeling a little trepidation about what to do with this little novel I’ve written. I have a friend who has done NaNoWriMo for quite a few years, who’ve never let even one person read their work. Right now I have people asking to read it, but I’m reluctant to let it out to friends and family until I’ve done a lot more work on it. In two or three months, when I haven’t been posting my escalating word count on Facebook everyday, will anyone care?
And then what after that? Do I try to get it published? I’ve been reading a lot of articles on writing and publishing. The general consensus is that everyone’s first novel attempt is terrible. It’s a learning experience, one that every potential author must go through. And if I do decide it’s good enough that other people should pay money to read it, do I try to go the traditional agent/print publisher route? Or do I try to self-publish? E-formats only, or do I go for getting actual real books printed? The dream, of course, is to see a stack of my books on an end cap at Barnes and Noble or Books-a-million. It’s to have a major motion picture made from my film. I’ve already decided Ben Browder (from Farscape and Stargate) should play the police officer/seer character. Realistically though, I’ve got only a slightly better chance of that happening than I do of winning Powerball.
A couple people with more writing and editing experience have offered to read it for me and give me some much needed feedback, so editing is the next step. For now though, I'm just going to be proud of my accomplishment, that I saw my story through to the end.