i wrote a novel

I spent the summer pouring my writing energy into my novel. I set myself a goal of a thousand words per day, every day, and it paid off. I had a handful of unproductive days and a slightly larger handful of amazing days that doubled or even tripled my goal, and in three months, I wrote just under eighty thousand words and wrapped up the plot. So I did it! I wrote a whole novel!

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Now I have to edit it.

I couldn’t even remember how I had edited my papers for uni, so I googled “how to edit a novel.” I clicked on the first three links that looked useful, and received three sets of advice.

  1. This is a twelve-step process and it takes a year. Read your manuscript through eight times. Send it to groups of beta readers between each read-through. Be thorough. This process should take a year; why would you want it to take any less time?
  2. This is a two-week process. Print it off, scribble all over it, transcribe your changes, send it off. Overediting is the bane of writers’ existence. Why would you take any more time?
  3. Edit your novel in four steps, one of which I have already missed the boat on. Use four different approaches.

Option three was written by an editor, rather than by an author, and I like it best, even though I’ve kind of messed it up already. Sort of. What I’m doing is this: 

That’s my fancy trying-to-look-artistic shot, when in reality I scrapped all the colours and I’m just scribbling all over the pages with one pen, and taking confusing notes in my notebook that I won’t understand later. After reading all the editing assvice, I remembered that I used to always print off my essays to edit them because editing on a computer screen was a terrible brain disaster. So I’m starting there. I’d like to have it in pretty good shape by Christmas, which might be a bit on the quick side, but I do not think that setting a deadline one year from now is going to be in any way motivating for me. I wrote the whole manuscript in three months. The editing should take at least that long, but any more and I will be so bored I will burn it all. I already have a couple of new ideas doing their percolating thing, and I don’t want them to be stuck in limbo for too long.

Even if this book does not make it to the NYT Bestseller list, or even through the gauntlet of a mainstream publisher, I am proud of what I accomplished this summer. I wrote a novel. My two current book-doulas think it’s rough but has a good foundation, and even if it isn’t published, I did it, and now I know I can do it, and I am not ready to give up.

I’m a writer! I wrote a book!