Yesterday, I experienced a profound sense of accomplishment.
The four-month writing period of the Six Month Novel Programme is coming to an end, and I actually finished writing the last scene of my current draft about three weeks ago. That felt pretty great, not least because it happened on a writing date with a friend who was also there when I finished my first draft of the novel nearly two years ago.
My task for yesterday was to put the whole thing into one document and then go through it to indent all the paragraphs, separate all the individual scenes, and add in the chapter breaks. I thought it would just be a tedious exercise in formatting, and it did indeed take many hours. However, along the way, I spotted a few easily correctable errors, expanded the climax scene, and added in a few lines that significantly improved the thematic pay-off in the epilogue. All those felt like important changes, and I was glad to have made them.
What prompted my surge of satisfaction with the novel, though, was just the act of seeing it as a cohesive whole. Even though I wasn’t actually reading it, I still scanned through the whole thing, discovered where the natural chapter breaks fell, and got a real sense of it as a proper story. It’s 93,000 words long, and it tells a complete tale with characters who change and develop, and a world I have created, which faces challenges and comes out the other side.
Much more so than typing THE END at the bottom a scene that was just one of many I wrote and edited over the last four months, this act of creating one file with all the words in one place has made me feel as if I’ve really written a novel. And it feels really, really good.
There’s still a long way to go, of course. Editing boot camp starts next week, and only really focuses on the first 3000 words. After that, I need to go through the other 90,000 words myself, ask some good friends for more feedback, spend several months rewriting, and then hopefully submit it for agent responses at Winchester Writers’ Conference next June. That’s a lot of work to get done, for an uncertain outcome nearly a year in the future.
But I have a novel. And I have a plan. And it suddenly all feels very possible…