Celebrating Sustained Effort: Finishing the First Draft of My Novel

I wanted to write this sooner, but life got in the way. So here I am, a few days later, writing this post on the sofa bed of a tiny apartment in the Alps. Next to me, my husband is snoring. The kids have been asleep for hours. On the telly, of all things, Predator is playing. Outside, snow whirls in the midst of a storm. The trip couldn’t have come at a better time.

On Thursday I finally finished the first draft of my novel. I didn’t know when I woke that morning, that it would be the day I finished. I knew I was close, of course, but these past few weeks have been full of obstacles and well, resistance. It’s the same resistance I encountered in the early stages of my novel, when doubts swirled that I could ever put pen to paper in such a sustained way.

I looked back at my Scrivener file to check my novel dates. My planning document was created in early January 2013. It’s hard to believe that the seed of my story has existed for so long. I am practiced now in sitting at my desk and letting my fingers dart across the keyboard. I’ve done most of my writing over the past year, the flurry bookended by doubt.

I wonder, would I have given up at the beginning of my journey, had I known how long it would take? I can’t be sure. I’ve never been the most patient, but then this journey has changed me. I think in some ways writing has made me a less likeable person. I am less giving, more protective of my time, tetchy when I’ve been away from my desk for too long.

It felt so good, writing those final words. I was a jumbled mess: tearful, elated, relieved. And then I saved my work and went on the school run, grinning like a fool in the playground. I’m proud of finishing, even if the story never reaches anyone’s bookshelf but mine. Sometimes it feels narcissistic to chase this dream. But I believe in words, mine and yours. And without air, words die. After a fortnight’s break, the next phase will start – editing and querying. I hope to share it with you soon.

Mosaics Volume 2

Until then, I’m so excited to tell you that a short story of mine has been accepted for publication in a feminist anthology called Mosaics Volume 2, curated by Kim Wells and Pavarti K. Tyler and edited by Jessica West. It will be available in Spring and proceeds will be going to The Pixel Project.

Happy reading and writing all

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