Back in October, I took a weekend getaway to Indianapolis. Fort Harrison State Park, to be more specific. I’ll explain everything soon. For now, enjoy the view.
It is done.
At 5 AM on Wed morning, I finished the first draft of my manuscript. (The week before, Andy kept telling me to “Finnish” my book. So that’s the note I left for him at 5:01 AM.) But while finishing the first draft IS a big accomplishment, it’s also just the beginning of a new phase: editing. Such is the nature of writing, that each milestone only leads to the next, and your work is never really complete.
Because of that (and because of my extreme exhaustion) I had a hard time feeling celebratory. Don’t worry! As the day wore on, and the enormity of my 87,000 word achievement sunk in, I did find myself smiling, and my heart dancing, just a little bit. But it wasn’t this big carefree, elated high like I was expecting.
The best way I can think to describe it is this: I put up the walls and the roof. Does that make it a house? Technically. It contains all the necessary elements — kitchen, dining room, bedrooms, bathrooms. But it’s not ready for anyone to come inside yet. I still need to put in the doors and windows. (Not to mention paint and furnish.) You wouldn’t hold an open house for a building with no doors and windows, would you?
What you might do, though, is drink a glass of wine with a good friend to honor the fact that, no matter what happens next, you built something. Not just a vision or a blueprint, not just a foundation or a frame. A real house with rooms and stairs. A place that people could someday live in and love. Yes, it’s got a ways to go, but damn, look at how far it’s come.
So, friends, will you raise a glass with me?
– writing until 3 a.m.
– finally watching How I Met Your Mother
– cat-sitting for my neighbor
– reorganizing our books by color
– not blogging
But here’s the thing: I’m close. Close to the end of the first draft. I won’t say how close, and I won’t predict when I’ll actually be finished, but as all those 2012 doomsday-ers say, THE END IS NEAR.
Sometimes we know what we need to do, but we forget. I think that’s why writing blogs are helpful to writers — after a while, it’s not that we’re learning anything new, but we’re getting constant reminders (that are hopefully entertaining and/or eloquent). Today’s inspirational reminders come via my friend Angie. These are the ones that applied most to me, but there are about a dozen others if you click through.
Yesterday I was at Writer Unboxed, sharing some thoughts on juggling. (Sort of.) I’d love if you hopped over and gave it a read.
In the end, I couldn’t make this line fit into the post, but I wanted to share it here:
Writing is unlike many professions in many ways. But it is exactly like most professions in this one very important way: You will get better the longer and harder you try.
There is nothing weird or shameful about that.
As a society, we tend to give birthday cards, send holiday greetings, and mail gifts or notes when we travel. But what about the rest of the year? The little celebrations, or the unexpected times of difficulty? What about my favorite occasion: no reason at all?
In college, I constantly left random notes for people in my hall. I tried to highlight things they had done that made me smile, or tell something cheerful if I knew they were down. This was doubly true when I became an RA.
This is a bit harder to do in “real life” (i.e., after you’ve graduated). Okay, not harder, but perhaps considered weirder. Fortunately I don’t mind being a little unconventional.
To that end, Michael’s has these dollar bins that I love. There are always stationery sets (8 cards and matching envelopes) in varying designs, and I try to pick up a couple nice-looking, all-purpose ones to have on hand.
Also, a friend recently gave me a box of a hundred or so postcards, each depicting a different old book cover. (They mostly look the same.) I like to match the titles to the reason or person I’m sending them for. “Vile Bodies” as a get well card, “The Odyssey” as congratulations on a new job.
Like I said, I don’t mind being a little weird.
Football. I cannot believe how much I’ve come to love this game. Flag, fantasy, and pro. I’ll have to write a post/column on it sometime. For now, I’ll just say that even though the Texans lost by basically giving our opponents 17 out of their 20 points today — grumble grumble — overall it was a good football year for me and my teams. And from now until August, I’ll be running on dreams of an even bigger, brighter next year.