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Monday, December 3, 2012

Finished... with the First Draft



So, did I meet the challenge presented by National Novel Finishing Month?

Yes, I did.

I can't believe it. I never really imagined a world in which I was not writing this draft of The Seven Noble Knights of Lara. Every time I used to go to sleep, I would think about a character or a scene so that I could process it overnight and have a few good words or sentences for that purpose the following morning. Now I don't know how to fall asleep!

The current draft totals 131,105 words, by far the longest thing I've ever written. It's twice as long as my doctoral dissertation! This month alone I wrote 28,600 words, hands down the most I have ever written in a single month.

There at the end, I was having a lot of trouble transitioning from pounding away at the keyboard with my head in the fictional world into a nice evening at home with my husband, and I feel I've neglected him terribly. On the Tuesday before I finished, he got a fairly deep, bleeding cut on his thumb. I should have washed the cut with antiseptic, put pain reliever and a Band-Aid on such a grave wound, not because he can't do it, but because it would have been kind and supportive. But I didn't! That dear blood wasn't nearly as much as the metaphorical amounts coming out in the study during the day and I was far too self-absorbed to take anyone else's pain into account.

I hope none of my other fine novels will be this wrenching to finish.

I was grumpy after I placed the last period, on top of all the other abuses my husband suffered, and I think it's the authorial version of post-partum depression. This thing I'd just given birth to seemed like a horrible twisted monster, and yet I missed it percolating in my head. I've still got to do a lot of research, revising, and polishing, and who knows what else, so it's not like I have to completely let go of this thing yet, and I can't decide if that cheers me up or not!

I snapped this picture of where I worked minutes before I composed the last paragraphs.



It's a cheap card table we bought in Tucson when we had no furniture and no money, but on it rests everything I needed: a window to cast natural light on the subject; a chair I upholstered with my dad and needs already to be re-upholstered; an old lamp from my grandmother, who passed away in 2002; a picture of my critique group, who believes in me; a phone to get calls from my husband, who also believes in me; the book with the original texts upon which I based my novel; a chapter outline; a picture of the place where Margaret Mitchell wrote about half of Gone with the Wind; a bottle of water; a heart-shaped frame with a picture of Alfonso X el Sabio, my hero and the one who had the surviving texts written down; and to the right, left, and behind the laptop (no internet connection) as well as on the floor in a bag leaning on the table leg, notes. Some wonderful books about the middle ages inhabit the shelves you can see in the picture, and you can't see the music that I had playing, various instrumental pieces from as close to the tenth century as I could find. I had a pretty similar setup in Georgia with a gorgeous tree-filled view, but I started the novel in Tucson with the laptop literally in my lap and only some of the notes to guide me. It's been a long, strange trip.

But I'm hoping to reintegrate into society now. Book reviews, interviews, and history tidbits coming your way soon! As well as the occasional update on The Seven Noble Knights of Lara.