Hemingway was right (& I finished my novel)

The first draft of anything is shit. Hemingway.

So why am I quoting the great one? Well, I finished my novel…after a fashion.

First things first. I finished my motherfucking novel!! WHOOP WHOOP!

Ahem. Let me define ‘finished’ before I get too carried…oh my god I fucking finished it!…away.

So, it’s not finished, not really. As a first draft, it’s done, but there are sections that need rewriting, some chopped, others need finishing. That’s obviously the nature of a draft, but there’s some serious work to be done. Nonetheless, it has a start, middle and end. There is a clear set of events (the plot) and story. The characters are distinctive enough (for now).

I could describe all the things I reckon are wrong, need changing etc, but that will come in time with rewrites. For now, I’m just going to bathe in the celebratory glow, albeit briefly, and reflect on what I’ve gained and learnt from the experience.

This all started out of a NaNoWriMo, and just kept going. To persevere to the end really was something, if I’m honest, and I found myself pleasantly surprised at how much I looked forward to writing more and more.

I found an appreciation for simplicity and action. Too often I ended up in sections that merely described the characters going from one place or another. These were hard to write, and often fizzled out. Once I introduced a sense of action, or tension, then it became easier to write, and much more enjoyable.

Planning out the plot ahead of time made it possible. I did very little character background, inventing it as I went, or relying on brief descriptions. I wrote little world creation, again developing as I went. I didn’t write in chapters, I wrote in sections, with strands of events occurring before moving onto the next. That all help make the writing simpler for me. There’s a trade off that there’s probably more I’ll need to work on, but at least the whole thing is done, and I’ve minimised the risk of endless world building without actually writing.

I’ve learnt how important it is that I like my novel. I enjoyed the story, while accepting it’s flaws. It’s the type of story I would like to read. I think this is why I wanted to persevere.

There’s a way to go. My first job is to get some distance from it. Just get a breather. I want to be clear headed for the rewriting.

My next task will be to read the whole thing all the way through, from start to finish. I won’t make any corrections, or take any notes while I read. Only after I have read a particular section will I take down some notes. Then, I’ll break the story down into clearer sections and, eventually, chapters. This will help me identify the bits I need to rewrite, add or delete, and start the draft process.

So there’s work ahead, but fuck me if I didn’t just write a novel. Yes, it’s shit, but it’s also beautiful. You know people say babies are ugly, but adore them at the same time? I think this is similar…and without the poo and that weird white gunk babies seem to produce (hey, bonus!).

So there it is, my first novel. I’m pleased. I’m proud. And I look forward to the rewrites and watching the book grow.

Holy fuck I really did write a book. Awesome.


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