After a week of being totally tunnel-visioned, I’m stepping away from putting the final touches on the final draft of a novel long enough to whip together a quick blog post with one hand while I shovel food into my mouth with the other. I can’t focus well enough to pull something out of the archives to be shared again, so the best I can hope for is some ramblings that may or may not be too navel-gazey and hopefully will be coherent enough that it won’t leave you lot scratching your heads.
The thing about a novel as opposed to a short story is that I’ve invested a lot of life into it. In this particular novel, I’ve invested more than usual, and it feels very close to my heart. What that means is I’ve lived a long time with my characters, with the love and the conflict and the problems and the pleasures of the world they live in. They’ve revealed their secrets to me, and I’m at home with them. I’ve watched them run around the kitchen in their underwear and seen them toss and turn in their sleep. I’ve even peeked inside their heads and seen their dreams. I know what they love and what they hate. I know what pushes their buttons. I know their fears and their hopes. I’m comfortable with them, but I’m not so comfortable with the fact that I’ll have to leave them very soon. That’s the purpose of a final draft, after all. It’s the end that makes room for new beginnings.
It’s been hard work. The final draft is always intense and focused at the expense of almost everything else – including regular meals. When it comes time for that final rewrite, I’m gone. I’m seldom on social media, I barely manage my emails, and I disconnect from the outside world as much as possible. That’s especially true when a final draft coincides with my husband being away on business, as it does this time. A final draft is a part of the writing experience like no other. It’s not the runaway train excitement, watching the story unfold of the first draft. It’s a journey deeper into the caves and crevasse of the plot and into the dark inner workings of the characters and the story. It’s the deepening, the broadening, the true KNOWING of the novel and the characters that I wrote at break-neck pace in their first draft incarnation. The final draft is total obsession, and when it’s done, that means there’s serious withdrawal. While I’m anticipating the finished draft, I’m also dreading it. There’s always a period of bereavement that follows, and the empty nest that must be dealt with before it can be made ready to refill with a new beginning. But the letting go is hard.
In the meantime, I’m tired and I’m strung out, and I’m too much in the world I’ve created to be of much use to anyone outside it. Dinner’s finished. Drinks are refilled, and I’m back at it! I’ll see you with a new Shameless Selfie on Sunday.