I finished the first draft of my novel yesterday. I printed it off and placed it in a pile on the desk. Then, without reading it, I walked away.
I had thought that when I finished it I would feel ecstatic and exhilarated. I thought I would want to celebrate. Most of all I thought finishing it would provide me with confirmation of the fact that I am a writer.
I feel some of that.
But mostly I feel irritated. The story is full of holes. The characters act inconsistently. I can’t work out what the “theme” might be or what the point of the book is at all. I don’t think it is any good and it is far too short, by about 25,000 words.
Of course I’ve been taking comfort from every article that’s been written about first drafts being rubbish. I know I am not the only person who has written a first draft that does not meet the generally acknowledged length that a novel should be in terms of word count. I know that I have a series of drafts ahead of me where I work out what on earth it was I meant to write, knock it into shape, find the story I am supposed to be telling.
Part of me is wondering whether this is the time to stop kidding myself. I should pat myself on the back for giving it a go and return in full to my gorgeous boys and my job (which I go back to next week – mat leave is finally at an end).
But I am not willing to give up. This may continue to be an exercise in futility but I am going to put it away for a month or so and go back to it fresh. I am then going to re-plot, put some character into my characters, get rid of the inconsistencies and the terrible, terrible cliches and see if I can manage to make it resemble the novel that I dream of writing.
At the moment I feel deflated and daunted by the task ahead. From what I have read, what I am feeling is common. So I will regroup and restart in a month or so. I really hope I won’t be wasting my time but I don’t feel I have any other choice but to carry on. Abandoning hope now, without even reading it through, would surely be much more of a waste.