Today, I just hit a major milestone. After working on my YA novel for almost two years, I finally put all the pieces together in one document. I now have a full book: It’s almost 300 pages long. When I put my computer to bed for the day, I did a little victory dance. Only my four-footed pal Ryder witnessed this little proud prance, but that’s OK. I was dancing for myself — for the pure joy of having completed something I really care about.
I still have a long way to go, mind you — so all this cavorting may be premature. But who cares? Not me! It’s important to celebrate a milestone even if no one knows you’ve hit it but you. Actually, I told my sister Steph, Britomar’s biggest booster, that I was pulling everything together today and promised to give her a page and word count. It was a way to make myself accountable for getting it done, because this step is overdue.
I’ve been dithering around a bit. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because pushing things to completion isn’t always easy for me. Maybe I’m afraid to actually finish, because then I have to deal with taking it public and finding an agent. Or maybe, I just enjoy being with Britomar in our own little world so much that I don’t want to let her go. I’m not sure. But whatever it is, I’m not buying it! I am going to keep on going until I hit the finish line, no matter what. For me, that’s part of what writing dangerously is all about: writing through to the end.
Not to worry: I still have plenty of work ahead of me. I have notes from my writing group that I need to pull out and think through. I also have to print the entire novel out and read through it from start to finish. since I’ve been working on it in big chunks, I’m not sure if it all holds together. Once I’ve taken it as far as I can on my own, I plan to give it to three people to read, two of whom have read a lot of the story and one who will be coming to it totally fresh.
And then, I want to sit and just read the whole novel aloud. For me, this is one of the best ways to hear its rhythm and feel its heartbeat. Reading aloud is amazingly helpful. All your awkward phrases, clumsy sentences, and poor constructions just jump right out at you, screaming to be changed. It’s the best way I know to do a final polish.
Wow, there’s still a lot of work to do. But I’m up for it. I’m so excited about putting my novel together that I think I’ll do another little victory dance. Here I go!