I was in a NaNoWriMo write-in last night when, suddenly, my novel ended. We were doing a word sprint and I couldn’t think of what scene came next (because, while I didn’t outline, I did formulate a list of scenes I thought might appear somewhere just to give me something to refer back to when I got off stuck). I checked my list and, huh, this was the last scene. I double checked, scrambled around for scenes I may have forgotten and, nope, this was really it. And, while I hadn’t seen it coming, the book had been accelerating to something these last few writing sessions and, once I realized what was happening, it felt right. The bit I was working on lead perfectly into the final scene I’d pictured from the beginning so I did the last sprint a little slower, trying to enjoy my fade out, even if I know I’ll be seeing this characters again in future drafts.
I just finished another novel. It feels pretty awesome. But, dang, I really didn’t see that coming.
Of course, this isn’t my first time finishing something. Or a novel. This also isn’t the first time I finished my novel before I wrote 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. I also finished Mistress Novel before I hit the NaNo 50k though, while I also started that one before November, I think Mistress Novel was much more cohesive first draft than this one is. This one is a real mess and, while I really love this story and think it’s worth working on, there’s some big fundamental things I have to mentally work out first about the world and the sci fi elements before I try to do a second draft. I think I’m going to put this one into the proverbial drawer for a while until my brain sorts out the details.
For those that are curious, the first draft of the YA novel I’ve nicknamed Clone Rocker is 56,642 words. (If you’re worried about my word count, don’t be. Weirdly, my first drafts are usually shorter than my more polished ones, the opposite of how normal people write.) I really like this world and characters, mess that it is at the moment, and I’m really impressed that I somehow got an entire 56k draft of a novel out of a weird pregnancy dream I had over two years ago AND got that entire draft done in under two months. I’m getting better at this writing thing slowly but surely. 😉
As for the NaNoWriMo 50k challenge, I’m ahead for the month anyway. I’m a little over 45k as I write this and should pass 50k this weekend. I’m not going to stop writing, though, because while I’m 5k away from the NaNo goal, I’m 34k away from my personal writing goal for the year and I’d love to put a serious dent in that to make my December that much easier. So I’ll be spending the rest of this month churning out a few other first drafts, namely a couple of plays that have been bouncing around in my head.
Finishing a first draft is a weird kind of duality. At once, you’re thrilled that it’s done and proud of yourself for getting it all down but, at the same time, you know it’s just the beginning of the long process of turning it into a final draft. A bit like climbing that first summit and taking a moment to bask in the glory of that view with the rest of the mountain you’ve yet to climb looming over you. Still it’s nice to just take a moment, catch your breath, and look at what you accomplished so far.