Coming out from under the weight of the first draft

My wife said to me last night: “Why are you in such a good mood?”

“I’ve finished my first draft!”

Which possibly shows how tense (grumpy?) I’ve been over the 9 months I’ve been writing this book. But also shows how people who don’t write novels (A.K.A. normal people) don’t really get the depth of preoccupation that this weird activity exercises over your headspace. And why should they?

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Getting the first draft down is definitely a great feeling. And a significant moment in the process. But it doesn’t mean that I’m done writing the book. There’s still a lot of work to be done.

But there is something there now. However imperfect. The story exists. Now all I need to do is knock it into shape.

I feel like I’ve been hunched over my desk forever.

Now I can stretch my arms and breathe. I can come out blinking into the daylight.

Now I can live my life like ordinary people do, without trying to carry around in my head the thoughts and acts of imaginary beings.

I’m now reading it through on my kindle.

(Which for some reason has retitled it “p1dm2vtkh01oqm1flhnhj1atpplb4”. Catchy title, eh?)

So far, my feeling is it’s not too shabby at all. That said, I know I need to lose between 10,000 and 20,000 words. Which judging by what I’ve read so far shouldn’t be a problem. I do tend to overwrite at the beginning of books, because I put in stuff that’s useful to me as I write, but which doesn’t need to be there for the reader, or can emerge more subtly later on.

I’ve also identified a few loose ends that I need to develop and tie up.

I need to change one character’s hair colour, decide whether another character lives in Highgate or Hampstead, and fix the timeline. Ah, the timeline.

There may also be some new scenes to write. A new character may have to make an appearance. Hopefully that won’t end up generating more words than I manage to cut back.

So, yes. Still a bit of work to do.

But I’m raring to go. In fact, I can’t wait to get down to it. Because if there’s one feeling that’s better than finishing your first draft, it’s delivering the finished book to your editor.

My deadline for that is 31 October. Yikes. Better get my skates on.









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