Earlier this year I resolved to finish my oft-neglected novel, Not Famous. Today, after seven long years,I finally finished the first draft. In mid-March I estimated that I’d finish by the end of April… and I was right on target, finishing the first draft on the very last day of the month.
For those who are wondering, the final word count at the end of the first draft is 107,706.
It’s been so long since I started working on this novel, I’d actually forgotten when I had started working on it. After digging back through old archives on a backup drive, I found an early draft from July 2011. Back then it had a different title (Coffee Shop Girl) and much of the story structure was different. Back then, I mostly had a rough idea of the story, and had started writing specific scenes in no particular order. There have been countless rewrites, reorganization of scenes, and many, many, periods of not working on it at all. Despite all that time and all those changes, there’s still a lot of dialogue that has survived from those early days.
I admit, the idea of finishing the first draft was frightening. This story has been percolating in my head for so long, I’ve spent many nights working out scenes in my head, pondering character backstories, or even coming up with the perfect name for a character while trying to go sleep at night. Spending so much time on these characters and this story has resulted in my getting pretty darn attached to them, and effectively putting an end to that story is, in many ways, kinda sad. I know there will be revisions to come, but the story itself is now all there. I have conquered fear of completion, lack of time, and writer’s block.
Completing the first draft is scary for another reason too. This entire time… these past seven years… this story has belonged to me alone. No one else has read a word, or heard anything substantive regarding the plot. Soon, I will take a step back, and allow some trusted beta readers to read it over to give me their thoughts, catch plot holes and other mistakes that are certain to be there considering all the years of rewrites, and give any other kind of input they are willing to provide.
My only published work at this point, is a short story I wrote a few years ago called The Last Stop, a paranormal thriller which was based off a dream I had. This novel is not a paranormal thriller, or science fiction. It’s hard to describe describe the genre except as contemporary fiction. I’d like to think of it as lad-lit, since the authors that mostly influenced my writing (Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, and Matthew Norman) are lad-lit authors and the story features a young-ish male narrator and the plot is centered on his relationship with a girl he meets early in the story.
Anyway, with this late lifted, I will step back and enjoy this feeling of accomplishment.