It’s been eight years since I published my first post on this blog. That’s 13 years on Venus. It’s two presidential terms. It’s the amount of time it took to build the “Big Ditch” that connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie.
In that time, I have turned a toddler into a tween, created another human from scratch, moved from the hippest neighborhood in the country to the much more kid-friendly suburban community we’re in now, became an auntie, watched my sister get married, traveled to South America (twice) and read hundreds of books.
What I have not done is finish my novel. Arg!
But I am close. I finished a draft a couple of months ago and gave it to my most trusted beta reader (aka, my husband). He gave me a good line edit and I am currently working my way through what I hope is a final round of revisions.
My hope is to be done by early November. I recently applied and was accepted to the Dorland Arts Colony for a one-week writing retreat in November and while I’m there, I intend to finish this project. Done. Like, really done. For good.
On retreat, I hope to spend big chunks of uninterrupted time taking in the finished product and making final tweaks. This is the work that is impossible to do while juggling work and family.
I want to read it through. I want to record myself reading it out loud and then listen to it while I take long walks through the desert landscape. I want to fall asleep with pages on my chest and wake up reading.
If all goes well, I’ll come home just in time for Thanksgiving with a completed manuscript. Woohoo! Because everyone knows the holidays are the best time to query agents. Right? (…crickets…)
In truth, the holidays are a tough time for anything. I will probably take the time to write a killer query letter and finalize the list of agents I want to reach out to. Maybe I’ll finish a short story that’s been percolating in my brain. I will also probably pull my second novel out of its drawer and read it through to see where I’m at with it.
My next novel will not take eight years. This has been a long process precisely because I’ve been learning to write a novel as I go. That’s not to say the next novel won’t have things to teach me, but I made a lot of missteps in the sixteen drafts of this first novel. Those are not mistakes I will make again. The next one simply has to be a little easier.
All I can do is hope. And keep writing.
For those of you who have finished a novel, did you have final steps you took? How did you know when you were done?