Note: Originally posted on Facebook. Formatting added on repost.
Done. Eight years to the date, four drafts, hundreds of thousands of words in notes and manuscripts combined, and I have a final version of the very first novel I ever wrote. The manuscript still needs a six-month rest period and then a read with new eyes, followed of course by some touch-ups and edits. Mostly, however, it is done. For the first time, I am not only satisfied with a draft of this story, but pleased. More than pleased. I would give this manuscript a big long hug if I could. I’ve reread it three times in the last two days, and I can’t stop smiling.
I began Draft/Rewrite #4 on January 1st this year, and I wrote 74,000+ words in April alone (not all of them were kept!). Total word count for 2014 is about 142k, 115k of which went into this final draft. Each of the four drafts of Phantom took me four months to write, which I think makes for some awesome symmetry. Songs associated with this manuscript include:
- “Losing My Religion” by REM
- “I Got Shit” by Pearl Jam
- “Ordinary Life” by Elizaveta
- “Nearer, My God, to Thee” (hymn)
- “Music of the Night” from the Phantom of the Opera musical
Most of this draft was written under the influence of Umbrella Brigade’s “B.D.U.” (which is NOT, however, associated with the text – only with the writing process).
The really lame, my-brain-is-melted description of Phantom: After a decade away, Sam Milam returns to her hometown when her father suffers a major heart attack. Once there, she must face estranged friends and family, memories of lost love and a devastating miscarriage, and the contempt of former fellow church members of the faith she left behind long ago. Sam finds an unexpected ally in Oliver Deboe, a family friend who helps her to understand that despite feeling as if her life got frozen in time at age twenty, she does have a chance to be happy again someday. [Women’s fiction – which is very rare for me to write.]
Some of my friends have read former drafts of Phantom, but over the years, this story has changed drastically and no longer resembles previous versions all that much. It has become so intensely personal to me that I’m not sure I will ever show the final draft to anyone. I guess we’ll see how I feel after the manuscript has a chance to rest and receives its last round of pre-beta-reader edits.
Now that I’m done binge-writing, I’m taking May off. It’s time to catch up on all the books I have bought/borrowed this year, all the movies I haven’t watched yet, all the saved blog posts I have yet to read/comment on, the submissions (for a different manuscript!) that I’ve neglected, my exercise/training regimen, the emails I haven’t responded to, and the house that desperately needs a thorough cleaning.
Also: Time to bask in the afterglow of writing the word END.