April 6, 2010
Today's a red-letter day for me because, guess what, I just finished working on a novel. It's called Blind Love, and I started about two years ago. Back then, I set myself a goal: I was going to write the darned thing in one year. I reorganized my time so that I was a-five-day-a-week woman, and I MADE myself sit down at the computer every Monday through Friday. By February of 2009, in spite of my life continually getting in the way (my beloved cat died and I acquired a new kitten, my elderly aunt got sick, we went on a couple of vactions, I stopped writing for a while to teach a class--you get the idea), I had something resembling an entire book. Of course, certain parts were missing, like the transition to the very end and the connections between between many of the events therein. Still, I handed the "last" chapters to my writers' group (we're called Writers of the Lost Art or WOLA) and was met with a series of howls. The concensus was that I had four chapters to go.
Can you believe it took me 14 months to write those chapters and glue everything together. But here I am.
Recently, I taught a fiction workshop, and several of my students asked how you know when you're finished with a story or a chapter or a novel. Good question. One of my writing buddies says you're done when looking at the manuscript makes you want to throw up. That sounds about right to me. I think of it more like trying to nail jello to the wall. Gravity keeps the big gooey mess trickling down to the floor.
I won't be looking at Blind Love any time soon. That way lies madness--word changes, events and people that don't seem right, and so on. I've decided that the answer to my student's question is that there is no answer. You kind of quit, and then you're over it.
So, on that cheery note, I'm off to do a Sudoku and park my brain in front of the Tube. It deserves it, don't you agree?