Something somewhat frightening recently happened in my life: I completed my first novel. In addition to the very satisfying freelance writing career that I have built for myself, I also enjoy creating fiction. My novel is the most focused and carefully constructed work in this realm that I have attempted to this point, and the writing process was also a huge learning experience for me, both in terms of how I write and how I think.
Fear wasn’t the only emotion engendered by the passing of this milestone, of course. I also managed to run through relief, trepidation, happiness and sadness all within the space of the evening to took me to tie together the loose ends that had been flapping around my prose for the final few months of work I had put into the book.
I think that this range of response isn’t uncommon amongst those who have accomplished a long term and to them monumental task. It took me seven years to go from the initial idea to the final period at the end of the last chapter in the book, of which two years was solid and disciplined writing. While I can’t speak for other writers, I think that the shivers of fright I experienced once I knew that my work was finished were related to two subsequent realizations.
First, I knew that my work wasn’t actually finished – it was just beginning anew. Now that my story has been told, polished and then polished again, it is time to find an audience for it. This means entering into a fresh world of literary agents, fiction publishers and retailers, a world where my credentials and experience as a freelance writer don’t carry the same weight as they do in my parallel career. I am gearing up for another learning curve that will have me expanding my horizons a great deal over the coming months.
The second item that caused me to tremble a bit inside was related to the fact that now that my story is done, it is ‘done.’ Certainly, there may be room for improvement, edits, clarifications and the like, but the point I am trying to make is that I have actually followed through and executed on an idea and dream that was very personal, committing it to words and exposing it for everyone to see. I feel that part of what held me back from fully birthing my novel into the world previous to my final two years of hard work was a lack of faith that I would be able to say what I wanted to say in a manner that other people would fully understand.
I know that I have overcome much of this mental block through completing my novel, but there is the lingering, faint tingle that perhaps I could have been even more eloquent in voicing some of my most internal emotions, desires and ideas within the context of the book.
I plan on documenting as much of this adventure as I can, now that I am ready to begin marketing and presenting my book to the publishing industry at large. I am sure that there will be much more to write about as time goes on.
Have any of you managed to take your novel from an idea germinating in your head to a bound stack of pages resting on a shelf in a book store?