My Workstation moments after finishing the first draft!
First draft is in the books. Yesterday just after 12pm I finished. Eighty three thousand two hundred and forty nine words. Just the right length for a first time novelist. The moment was quite... interesting. I really didn't know how to feel. I just sat at my station staring at the last line wondering if that was the last line. I smiled (I'm practicing showing not telling but that means it was the last line. Darn, I just told!).
Now comes the editing and revising. I will read through the story with different color highlights each one representing something I need 'to do' to certain parts. In fact, I just realized after spelling 'staring' above that throughout the story I spelled that 'starring.' Much different meaning but both are words. That is a warning to all you kids out there that spell check is NOT the answer to all your problems. The editing part will be much easier for me than the revision part. I've either fallen in love with something that isn't necessary OR I become overly critical and want to throw the entire manuscript away. Stephen King did that to Carrie. He threw the first draft away and his wife retrieved it out of the trash, read it, and told him he needed to finish the story. He did, was paid over $400,000 when it was printed for paperback, and has written a story or two since. He didn't feel capable to write from a woman's POV. Imagine being robbed of Annie Wilkes from Misery, or Winifred Torrance from The Shinning (book version), or Mother Abigail from The Stand (his best work, in my humble opinion). There are plenty more that star a woman like Delores Claiborne (for the non-horror fan and those who just love great character stories) or a little girl named Charlie in Firestarter (really one of his finer moments as a writer).
I throw all this out there because my main character is a 50 year old black man and the second main character is a woman just over 50 (I hope she doesn't mind me telling you her age) who was raised by a single father (mother was killed in the attacks of 9/11, I know, how cliché). None of the above are me. It has been mentioned to me that I have no idea what it is like to be black, or a woman (of course, this person hasn't read the story only felt it necessary to comment), and they're right. But it is my job as a writer to get into the heads of people that are not me. In one of the zillion books on writing I've read (and it might be King's book, On Writing) it states that the writer's job is to bring to life characters and make them seem... real. I hope I've done that. I'll let the reader judge for themselves. I know one thing, I have become much more aware of people and their actions and their words and their mannerisms since I really got serious about my writing this summer. I have a recorder I carry around with me to add in quotes or observations or descriptions of what I see. I've become a bit more observant... for a guy.
In the weeks to come I will be carrying you through the adventures of editing and rewriting and finally sending it off to the editor (I will make it much more entertaining than the ACTUAL editing and revising will be). My ultimate goal is to self-publish (you saw the cover last week, if not, pan down) and begin selling my book as an e-book first - in hope that I can either earn enough to publish a hard copy or get some agent or publisher to pick it up. I hope to let you know what I learn (both good and bad) and to help those who have always wanted to write a book. For the rest of you, I really just want to entertain you. I know, sounds pretty childish, but, hey, if the shoe fits...
I hope to have the book out by Christmas at the latest. That gives those of you that don't have a kindle the opportunity to get one. They come in all shapes and sizes.