I’ve decided I must become focused on the act of finishing my current novel for the month of October. The past few days have been, not unproductive, but wasted somehow. I’ve been focused on all the wrong things. Instead of committing myself to completing my current WIP – which is very close to conclusion – I am experimenting with other ideas, planning this year’s NaNo attempt and generally procrastinating because I am afraid to finish novel number 1.
There I said it: I’m scared of finishing the first draft of my novel.
I have never written a novel before. Last November I sat down and dedicated myself to this very task and in the process of ‘winning’ the challenge I set myself up to be in a position I’d never experienced before: I had the bulk of my first book sitting before me waiting to be finished.
There is that old cliché about that unfinished manuscript in every writer’s desk and I so desperately don’t want to conform to this stereotype, even though I know that finishing the first draft is by no means a completed work. Still, it’s a huge milestone in any writer’s career: ‘The End’ of that first ever epic story you hardly believed you could write. Surely it deserves some serious recognition?
Well, part of my fear comes from not understanding exactly what celebration to put in place when I achieve that unlikely scenario of typing those fateful words to finish the novel. Another part is the huge amount of work that will follow this: the editing process, the rewrite, the admittance that mistakes have been made and I have to tear my ‘baby’ to pieces in order to create that masterpiece I dream about. That in itself seems like a thankless, never-ending set of chores.
In addition, I never really thought passed this point of my dream. The immense task of having to write a novel seemed so insurmountable a year ago that the very idea it would ever be completed never really entered my mind – even though that is what I was working toward. There is now the uncertainty of ‘what happens next’ that plagues my thoughts and not really understanding the answer that accompanies it (I’m not sure I know how to ‘edit’ or rewrite sufficiently – I’ve feel like I’ve only just learned to really write…!).
So, to tackle the bigger picture phobia I seem to be suffering from I am going to focus my mind on getting the little details completed: the individual scenes and necessary character twists that will help me work toward that fateful moment when there is nothing left to write. I’m not going to think about the day when there will be no more words to add, or when I’ll have to stop contributing to my characters so that their lives no longer exist pass a certain point. Those things are the scary bits. What I can do is write…and continue to write until that point whereupon my story is told.
Only then will I be able to acknowledge the enormity of the task I have just finished and celebrate somehow in the glory that comes with knowing the narrative you have created is all there, ready to be critiqued by your inner reader. Until then, writing is my only comfort…it’s the only thing I know I can continue to do until I get to the part where there is no push to tell ‘what happens next’.