and our little (d)raft reaches the shore.

Anyone who has written a book knows that it's impossible to write a book. -- Ed Gaffney

You probably heard it, didn't you? That burst of fireworks last night? The cheers, the shrieks, the gleeful laughter? (Also, incidentally, an inability to string together many words to express said delight...) So you already know: I finished writing Draft Three of This Immense Novel of Mine.

Finished. Writing. Draft Three.

(You also probably heard a loud popping sound yesterday afternoon, and another such sound two nights ago... kind of like a transformer blowing up? That was just the cramping of my brain as I coaxed another few thousand words out of it... Pay that no mind.)

It took a rush of 14,000 words added in two days (ack!), but it's done.

And I am thrilled. Even if it has reduced my vocabulary to words like Ack.

Today, then, I'm floating around the house. Burning out toner cartridges trying to print the entire draft. (Our poor printer rolled over with its feet in the air after 201 pages... Send flowers. Or more toner. Both are appreciated.)

I spent the morning doing a kind of "closing ceremonies." Meticulously reformatting it, scrolling through all those chapters, adjusting the margins. It's the kind of work that isn't efficient or even necessary, but I linger over it just the same. It's like watching the year 2009 go by again, like flipping through a photo album of the past months.

No one else would see the same things, looking at these words. But I can tell how the year has left its mark on my characters, just as it has on me. My protagonist's voice is different at the beginning of the book--the things she said in February, versus how she sounds now, as the leaves are falling, at the end of her long, long journey.

I recognize the paragraphs I wrote in parks, the sentences I scribbled on road trips. There are the chapters I wrote in a fit of inspiration at 1 a.m. in March, and this is the character I created during an emotionally dreary week in May. These are the lines that made me laugh; there are the words that made me wince.

Buried in the paragraphs are also little notes to myself: cheerful, encouraging things like "that plunking noise was your reader falling off her chair, sound asleep, or, possibly, bored to death. please rewrite."

Or desperately modest things, like: "yes, it's really true, you are a genius and this dialogue is BRILLIANT. Do cross "Go," do collect $200."
Ah. It's the little things that keep me going...
I spent most of the year saying, "Why is it taking so long to write this draft!" But now, now that it's done, I can't believe it. I really can't.

Just the same, it's time for a little break for the novel and for me. All my characters are sitting around the break room, eating nachos and swapping stories. (Why are they eating nachos? I have no idea. I just do what they ask, and they wanted tortillas and cheese.) And as they compare salsas and critique the guacamole, I'll be researching for their next draft. Thinking about where Draft #4 will take us. Making bigger plans.

Oh, and tackling Nanowrimo. It must mean I am a sick, sick little person, but Nanowrimo feels like a break this year. I'm using it more for play, since I won't be writing on my main novel, but a new idea. And even though I'm trying to get all 50,000 words in before the 21st (and a trip to Florida), it still sounds like fun. New characters! New plot twists! New setting!

New craziness! Sheer craziness.


  1. this is awesome, Jenn. congrats! and cheers to Draft 4!

  2. Rachel Aubrey, formerly Miss BoryczNovember 4, 2009 at 5:08 PM

    Oh oh oh! How about I send you flowers, your printer new toner cartridges, and your completed draft 3 some homemade guacamole? Yes for characters who eat chips! Yes for authorial development! And yes for the pursuit of stories: stories that speak truth, stories that speak reality, stories that say what we cannot. Yes!

  3. Shelley WestenbroekNovember 5, 2009 at 7:49 AM

    Congratulations. On. Finishing. Draft. Three.