On Finishing the First Draft of a Novel
The Work Never Ends
When I’m on the last pages of a new draft, I start to fear that I’m gonna be killed before I type the last word and hit “send” to my editor. I try to go the speed limit and eat heart-healthy (well, at least for me). And yet, my subconscious always effs with me. This Saturday, a day before I finished a draft of my next novel, I found myself walking in the middle of a blind curve, checking my emails, as a black pick-up truck whizzed inches away from me.
Which is to say, that finishing a first draft makes me uncomfortable. It is the beginning of the end. I know my editor is going to have tons of suggestions and edits for me for the next draft, but the first burst of inspiration is behind me and my characters will never be as fresh as when I first set them loose on the page. And I always love my characters to death, even as I do the worst things imaginable to them, so it’s hard for me to let go. Around the end of the first draft, is also when the cast of my novels begins to hang out in my dreams and sometimes I wonder if they’re more real than their creator.
Also, the end of a novel means I’m getting closer to my own end. I probably have twelve books in me and this one is number seven. And yet, a few hours after finishing, I found myself hoisting a glass of prosecco with a friend in Rhinebeck. My lesson to all novelists: There’s always time to drink.
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