Day 117/Day 0: The Finish Line

Train – The Finish Line (I’ll let you in on a secret: this song makes me cry. Every time.)

So. It’s December 31st. We all know what that means: I’ve managed to drag my sorry arse kicking and screaming through another year.

OH, and the novel deadline thing. Yeah, THAT.

At 1am this morning, after a monster 16 hour editing session, I sent a little email to Terry Pratchett and his nice people. In it, I included my first ever completed novel, which for now I have entitled ‘Thrown’, and which was a gnat’s whisker over the minimum word count at 80,001.

I realise bragging about the word count probably doesn’t bode well for the actual quality of the book, and that’s probably fair. It’s not amazing – it will need a whole lot more editing before it’s publishable, and some bits were probably so soul-destroyingly bad that whoever reads it might do a bit of a cry – but the bit I’m grasping proudly hold of is the fact I’VE WRITTEN A BLOODY NOVEL. In about three months, whilst working full time and moving house. Mostly in my lunch hours, at tearooms on my rare days off, and on benches in the cold at 3am on some insomniac-ridden mornings. But I did it.

Some of my biggest lessons from this:

1. Knowing when to edit, and becoming okay with the fact that I am my biggest critic. I will kick my own arse if necessary.
2. Sometimes, it’s just not okay to eat biscuits and watch Miranda. Sometimes, I have work to do, and if I don’t stick to my schedule, I end up spending my final month writing 2,000 words a night and crawling to bed in a panic. Oh let’s face it, I’ll never learn from that.
3.  Sometimes, just sometimes, I think I am a tiny bit bloody marvellous. A few sections of my book actually made me do a little dance. I just need time, and practise, and I really think I’ve got a good novel in me. So if this one, as I predict, comes to nothing – it’s given me an important spark of hope for what might yet arrive.

Anyway, I’ll let you know in March if I get shortlisted. Don’t hold your breath. No seriously – it’s dangerous.

While we’re here, and trudging through the final day of 2010, I thought I’d write a quick list of stuff I’ve done this year that makes me happy. It’s been a pretty big one. Here’s ten reasons why:

1. FROM JANUARY: Lost 44lbs and went from a size 14 to a size 8.
2. FEBRUARY: Became an Auntie. See more here.
3. APRIL: Wrote 22,000 words, including a dissertation that ensured my place in hell. (Christ ejaculating into Saints’ mouths. I don’t know what was more ridiculous – the subject matter or the fact it got a First.)
4. FROM JUNE TO SEPTEMBER: Wrote some poems I’m actually proud of.
5. JULY: Graduated.
6. AUGUST: Allowed a common cold to escalate into a hospital visit. ‘Cos I’m so rock and roll like that.
7. FROM SEPTEMBER TO DECEMBER: Wrote my first novel. Did I tell you about that?
8. OCTOBER: Moved into my perfect home.
9. NOVEMBER: Became a wine adviser
10. DECEMBER: Whipped my hair back and forth.

There’s lots of other stuff, too. Discovering passionfruit margaritas proved pretty deadly. Baking banoffee pie and pavlova for work started a reputation for me being a sort of Queen of sweet delights (not a bad title). Blogging about what I care about felt pretty good, especially the ones that seem to have resonated with people who’ve read them. And not voting Tory was a bit of a high point, n’all. For about two seconds, before Davey C became Prime Minister and made me want to throw eggs at him. Brick-shaped eggs. Made of brick.

See you next year. Let’s hope it’s even better.

LJ x

(I’ll let you in on a secret: this is the second draft of this blog post. I wrote a whole first one, and then decided it wasn’t worthy of your poor eyes and scrapped it. That’s another byproduct of this whole process: I’m a much more ruthless editor, with a greater thirst for good quality prose, rather than the first thing that falls out of my brain onto the keyboard. Which – for you as well as me, faithful readers – can only be a good thing.)


One thought on “Day 117/Day 0: The Finish Line

  1. Big congrats on completing a novel.. massive step! It may come to nothing but you now have the experience of finishing (which means you CAN do it again) and more importantly, your name is out there.

    (I was going to enter the Pratchett thing illness and too much stress going on limited my creativeness, sadly.)

    And of course, if you’re taking this writing lark seriously and feel like chatting about it you know where to find me (and also if via Twitter, @writerbloggins, is just me for writing stuff only and @LM_Towton – me and Loz. Do follow, I’ll make sure to follow you back on those as well ;))

    Bring it on 2011 eh? 😉

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