Job’s a (Sort of) Good ‘Un, I Hope…

Gratuitous inclusion of a cat to signify this exciting event because apparently, as my previous post will attest, bloody cat memes do boost your views. Do not expect cats in every post. Those little blighters are not getting all the credit…

The angels are having a boogie, the trumpeters are hitting duff notes, the Hallelujah Chorus is the theme tune, and I’m pretty much sitting here, head in hands, muttering ‘Thank f***k for that’ (bleeped out because I’m a good girl, I am).

I HAVE FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY FIRST EVER, EVER NOVEL, PEOPLE!

This will be a shortish post (for me) because my poor little typey fingers are fatigued from all the writing in the world this afternoon. I just wanted to document that by jove, I have really done it.

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I currently feel like Eliza Doolittle. I probably sound like her,  pre-Higgins Method, to the non-Brits. Apologies posh Brit gits for letting you down.

Let’s be clear from the off, I know this first draft is no masterpiece. I wouldn’t even show it to my husband right now. I word-spewed all over it. If my former pupils could see the typos, poor grammar and missing punctuation, they would pee their pants in glee at their English teacher’s failings.

I am also aware of the ‘The First Novel is Crap’ army (TM). Don’t worry my loves, it is excrement in many places. I haven’t upset the writery order of things, tipped the world off its axis, and you off your pedestals.

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Hemingway swore this time, not me. He did it! He did it!

Just lay off it a little with the newbies please. I never told the kids I taught that the first drafts of their stories were going to be useless. Call me revolutionary, but I thought that may not motivate them to continue. So I’ll avoid your advice on this until I’m a few novels down. I’ll also advise others writing their first novels to do this. Let’s not cull potential writers before they’ve even typed their first sentence.

I know I have also committed the first novel sin (Lord, forgive me) of using autobiographical material. Apparently this places me into the stereotypical, ‘what new writers always do’ camp. Perhaps I’ll laugh at this one day like you do now. Maybe though, just maybe, it might work. Now there’s a thought…

I know my novel needs a lot of work. That is the beauty of the first draft. In my defence, it has some flipping gems in there as well.

I worked bloody hard at this. I wouldn’t have seen it through to the end if I thought it was a great big steaming pile of doo doo. I am not huge in self-belief, but I refuse to put down my work in its entirety. Give me a few months…

I am going to let it breathe a little as I’ve been strangling the life out of the poor thing for a few weeks. I will start new writing projects, hopefully improve and come back to this novel refreshed and ready to do battle with the editing and revising. I am staving off the potential nervous breakdown for as long as I can.

I feel weird. I should feel exhilarated but truthfully, I feel a little flat. I am genuinely proud of myself for completing it. I know I have accomplished something millions of others will never do, or be stupid enough to contemplate. I guess it’s partially about being rubbish with endings (see my post ‘The End is Nigh’ for my weirdness about endings).

I am sad this novel is over. I invested a lot of myself into it. I took a risk and committed myself to writing because of it. That dastardly self-doubt is trying to tell me it may never amount to anything, and you know what, it might not in the sense of getting published.

You may never get to read this novel, depending on what happens after the editing and the obligatory breakdown. It may be that I did it just for me. That will be enough. It was the catalyst that gave me the courage to begin what I’d wanted to do for so long.

I do kind of hope it will be read one day. It may not be the first novel I publish, but I’d like to see it in someone’s hands – preferably as reading material and not something to swat flies with or as emergency bog roll.

In the meantime I am focusing on what’s next. No slacking for me. I’m just getting warmed up…

About Lisa Sell

Lisa Sell is a fiction writer and blogger. When not wrestling with words she can be found showing the love for chocolate, cheese, coffee, the cat, and the Husband. Not particularly in that order.

22 comments on “Job’s a (Sort of) Good ‘Un, I Hope…

  1. Congrats! I remember that first draft of first novel feeling. I think it’s only topped by the “about to be published” feeling. Yeah the editing sucks afterwards, but you wrote a freaking story! Sure it needs work but you FINISHED! You got to write “the end!”

    It doesn’t matter what people think or say, ride that high for all its worth!

    1. Thanks so much Kristen. I needed this today as self-doubt creeps in. I need to give myself credit for finishing it, not focus on the negative stuff. Onward and upward. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. That is so awesome and so inspiring. I’ve been talking about finishing my first draft for so long, I’m getting sick of the sound of own voice! But a fellow beginner somehow proves to me it can be done.. Well done!!!! What an achievement. X

    1. Thanks so much Elle. I felt the same, in that I was getting fed up of talking about finishing it. The thing is I feel a bit weird about it now I have. Maybe it’s because I’m such a perfectionist but it doesn’t feel like a major achievement right now. I guess that’s because a first draft is very raw and messy.

      Because I’ve been an academic writer I never saw the first draft of essays as a big deal. The finished essay was the thing to be proud of (hopefully). So I’m trying to adjust to a first draft of a novel being a big thing. It’s hardly an essay is it? This reply may be though!

      I need to leave it for a while and move on to other things. I’m not sure how I feel about editing and revising yet!

      You will get your first draft finished. The only deadline is the one you set. You’re in charge here. I’m looking forward to reading that novel and I promise, reading and giving feedback on your short story is high on my list! x

      1. I guess we build up that first draft, and I know it really is the first step of many. However, there are not a lot of people who can say they’ve managed this feat, and it’s the first and biggest hurdle if you ask me. Yes, leave it for a while. I recently read my book through after many months, and it was an enlightening experience. I loved bits and I hated bits. All in all it made me realise it was definitely worth finishing. PS. I have read your short story and am making some notes – dun dun dun 😉

  3. Congratulations! You totally rock and I hope you celebrated with your favorite drink and treat! *raises glass to toast the occasion* May there be many more “The End”s to come!

    1. Thanks Heather! The husband took me out to dinner so suitably celebrated. Let’s hope there are many more endings, of the positive type, to come!

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