Holy cow, I have just finished writing a novel! OK, so it isn’t the one I’ve been blogging about off and on (more off than on, I’m afraid) in here, but I have written an honest-to-goodness young adult novel of about 60,000 words (I lost count). Since this afternoon, I’ve been writing the very last chapter, and just a few short minutes ago, on this very auspicious day (Happy July 4th, my American friends!) I finally typed in those two elusive words: THE END.
I have been attempting to write novels all my life. Usually, I get somewhere around halfway and I run out of steam. This seemed to be the fate of my historical fiction as well. Last November, when I decided to tackle NaNoWriMo again, I made a radical decision. I opted to put the historical fiction on the back burner, and work on an idea that burst into my head a few days earlier after attending a writer’s conference in Toronto called Packaging Your Imagination. The idea? A ghost story. I had grown up devouring tales of horror with about as much voraciousness as I did science fiction and fantasy, so it wasn’t a huge stretch for me to write a tale in this genre. My plan was to write as much as I could in November, and then return to my historical fiction.
But it’s hard to get a lot of writing done in one short month when you also have a full-time job and a family to feed and keep happy. So by the end of the month, I was nowhere near finished. But the story would not leave me alone, and I made a quick apology to my historical fiction – and my in-laws, while I continued to hammer out this novel.
Then my health got in the way and I was in for another major surgery, less than 18 months after my other major surgery. If there was a positive side to this setback, it was my two months off work to recover. Plenty of time to write! So I spent every afternoon working away at it, with a goal of finishing the novel before the end of April and my return to work.
I was two chapters away from finishing. Sigh.
Returning to work was difficult and exhausting. I came home and struggled to get to my writing. Some days were productive, some not so much. Then, by mid-May my hopes of getting any writing done were pretty much dashed. I had a yearbook to finish and get to press. I had a graduation slideshow I had to put together and my own daughter was among the graduates, so it had to be extra special. Then there were all the other little things in-between that distracted me from my writing.
I can’t kick myself too hard. I did manage to finish one more chapter, leaving me with the very last one to write. The one I couldn’t get around to writing until today, but was determined to keep on writing until I finished with THE END. So, with husband making all kinds of racket renovating the kitchen, and the kids watching TV with volume cranked above his racket, I retreated to my shed outside. It was hotter than blazes in there, even in the cooler evening air, but I steeled myself for the task. I had managed to write four pages in the quiet afternoon indoors in air-conditioned comfort, and for one brief moment as I stood in that humid little shed, I thought about leaving it for the day.
But who was I kidding? I could almost taste THE END.
So I soldiered on. And when my laptop battery dwindled to 6% and my electrical outlet didn’t seem to work, I retreated indoors and plugged my laptop into one that did work. And I kept writing, even as I sat next to my daughters with the TV blaring and my husband still working away – but thankfully making less noise. And then, when everyone headed off to bed and quiet fell over the house like a fleece blanket, I snuggled in it and kept on writing until I finally got to do what I have waited my entire life to finally do. I wrote those words. THE END.
I want to cry. I’m so happy. Even though I know this isn’t the book I should be writing THE END to (so sorry, historical fiction, but I will get back to you now), I want to dance. This isn’t going to change anyone’s world. It’s just a ghost story. There’s no life-changing message hidden in it. It’s pure entertainment and who knows if anyone would even want to publish it. But it means so much to me. It means I can write a novel from start to finish (finally). It means I can actually do it. It means that even if it never sees the light of day in a book store or library, that’s all right. Because I told a story, and I didn’t just drop it halfway like I did with the novel about of friendship I wrote in high school, or the fantasy I started writing later on. Or even my poor neglected historical fiction – which I promise you I will return my energies to its telling.
I finished my ghost story. And tomorrow I am going to start revising it. After that, we shall see. But tonight I am going to sleep so well, because I can honestly say to myself and to others around me that I wrote a book.
I wrote a book.