I’m done! The first draft of my next book, I mean. Not much else in my life has been done for years, but that darn idea that has been taunting my brain for over a decade has finally been promoted to 95,000 words on paper. It’s finished. Well, for now.
To be honest, I cringe at writing the words first draft here. I am one of those weird, obsessive writers who constantly revises old chapters as I trudge forward in page count. So by the time I reach The End, it’s more like the thirty-second draft.
This does, in fact, help with the revision-time factor. In the past week, I have flown through the first 135 pages. They are tight, or at least as tight as I can make them, given the author-esque blinders I have on.
Now I am at that stage where I am dying to get it out into the world, but can’t yet. There is a process to follow. After my book critique group dissects it, it will go to my agent. Being one of those weird, obsessive authors, I won’t give it to her until it’s as perfect as I can get it. So it could still be a wait before it heads out on the submission highway. In the meantime, to appease myself, I play a game with my family called, “Don’t You Want Me to Read My Book to You?”
“Pick a page between 1 and 135,” I say. Bless their hearts, my kids are so gentle with me. “123,” says my teen, “but Mom, how much are you going to read, exactly, because I have homework.”
“Oh, only a page,” I say. My youngest gives me the eye, and I add, “A page and a paragraph and one line, maybe?”
I think the game is going very well, because they often ask me to read, “just a little more.” Sometimes, they indulge me by saying, without provocation from me, “OK, how about page 86 now. But just that page, Mom.”
As for my husband, I have decided that every night, I will read him one chapter, in order, whether he wants to hear it or not. His silence at the end (with occasional comment about some emotion I need to heighten) is such a good sign, you don’t know. I mean, it’s not, “Wow, I think you have a stab at the National Book Award,” but his taciturn response is like some serious APPROVAL. No joke.
So I’m feeling good right now. This weekend, I sneak off to a writing retreat with my critique group. Maybe I can whip through the whole thing. Or at least make my very own Martha Alderson Plot Revision Chart, replete with rainbow of highlight colors.
To be perfectly honest, a part of me is filled with terror. Not about what my agent will think. Not about what the publishers’ might say, but about my next book. My brain is kind of like a small car. It can hold an overnight bag, but not a lot of luggage. This means that when I am writing a book, I am THAT book, and there is almost no room for other ideas. This leaves me high and dry about visions of a future project. And then I have to spend days listening to my idea generator, called National Public Radio, until something grabs me, usually from This American Life.
But hey, I don’t have to think of that just yet. There’s still 200-some pages to revise first…In the meantime, do you want to hear a page?