on drafts, finished and future

von piggleston, my faithful writing companion
von piggleston, my faithful writing companion

So it took me at least three months longer than I had blithely assumed it would, but I finished a first draft of my memoir, the one that’s about the weirdness of weight loss surgery, and all the attendant Important Life Changes and mind-bending crazinesses that occur and blah blah blah etc. And when I typed “The End” I sat there for a full minute, looking at those words, expecting to—I don’t know. Burst into tears? Have my heart burst in a shower of sparks that spell out “YOU ARE JUST SO AWESOME” above my desk? Something. I expected a dramatic reaction, physical, emotional, emotional couched in the physical, but mostly I was just so relieved to be done with the goddamn thing, I shut my computer and went downstairs and out for a drink.

The book is—way too big. It’s 393 pages, 120,000-ish words. It’s enormous, bloated, a mess. It’s hysterical and bumbling and all over the place; it rushes through the important stuff (and then I got surgery!), and lingers over the less important stuff (I believe it was fifty degrees that day, or maybe about fifty-five? It looked like rain, too; I enjoy cheese!; Have you ever seen a puppy? Like, really looked at one?)

And that? Was six months in the writing. So that’s six months of me talking about myself in way too much insane, bizarre detail, to myself. That’s six months of wallowing in my neuroses, my mistakes, my neurotic mistakes, all my flaws and everything that’s ever made me cringe about myself. That’s a lot of whining. That is entirely too much of me for entirely too long.

Holy Christ, am I tired of myself.

I think it’s going to be a good book, once I whack out the whining parts, shore up the brutally honest parts, work on getting to the point, the meat, the heart of the matter, throw in a couple of knock-knock jokes. I think once I revise it without mercy, readers will hopefully not get sick of me and my voice and this thing I did and this story about a person I was and the person I became and the person I stayed all the way through. I hope it’ll be a book that means something to somebody. It means a lot to me. It means I wrote 120 thousand words, for one. Those are a lot of words! For two, it means my agents will have something of substance to shill, besides my promises that I am totally awesome and can write a totally awesome book.

It’s all printed out (WOW IT IS A LOT OF PAGES) and waiting for me to get to it with a red pen and a steely resolve. In the meantime, I am writing a YA novel that is based on how much I hate a very terrible song that I kept hearing on the radio, and I am having so much fun with it I cannot even stand it. I love this. I want to keep doing this. Because this is what I have figured out: I want to write. Someday I will write a Magnum Opus, a Masterpiece, my Am I Robert Penn Warren Yet? Work of Art.

But mostly, right now and right always, I just want to write, and I want to keep writing, and I want to write everything. I want to write romance and fantasy and YA and romantic fantasy YA and science fiction and humorous essays and urban paranormals and voice-driven literary fiction and maybe I will even take a whack at mysteries or thrillers or horror or some new kind of twisty genre that I make up out of my own head. Pretty much anything that’s not a memoir, really. I want to write it.

5 Replies to “on drafts, finished and future”

  1. I think it was Pamie (dot com) who a while back said something to the effect that she always half-expects confetti to spontaneously rain down from the ceiling every time she types the last word of a manuscript, and is always a little disappointed when that doesn’t happen. That pretty sell sums it up.

    Congrats on finishing the first draft! I’m drinking a toast to you and tossing cyber-confetti at you from way over here in Oklahoma.

  2. Congrats on being done! It does seem like maybe you deserve at least one piece of confetti for every single one of those words you wrote down. Perhaps you should arrange that in advance, for when you finish the YA novel. A big red button to press, or something?

    Hopefully this deep and abiding love of writing will also nicely equal more blog posts, because I have very much missed hearing regularly from you (and I’m sure I’m not the only one).

  3. I am enthralled. I found your blog through a link about your weight loss article. With one click I found myself delighted. I can’t relate to the weight loss surgery thing as I haven’t experienced it but your writing! OMG! It tickles my brain. It exercises my smile muscles. It is a pleasure. You are a wonderful writer. I believe you will have great success with whatever genre you choose. Congrats on completing your first book. I know how hard it is to finish the first one. I have been trying for 20 some odd years with 5 separate novels. You have another fan who looks to devour every word for entertainment and inspiration.

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