Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thoughts Post-Novel

It's true, it's official, it's finally happened -- I finished my novel! I FINISHED MY NOVEL. As in, I finished it and there's no more to write. It's edited and fixed and polished and done.

I don't exaggerate when I say this is the best thing I've ever done in my life. Even better than living in London for a year, although the two are pretty closely intertwined. I went to London to get my Creative Writing degree, after all, and I met some of my best friends and biggest inspirations at Brunel's MA program. Studying at Brunel was the motivation I needed to start and finish the novel I'd always wanted to write, and I'm so beyond happy that I did it -- I can't put it into words.

I've wanted to be a novelist since I was in middle school, when I wrote a story about a goat, a lizard, and like... a bird of some sort in a college-ruled notebook. It was pretty plot-less and obviously not very memorable, but the feeling of creating a story, an adventure, was my favorite feeling in the world. Since then I've written short stories, flash fiction, poetry, half-finished novels, barely-begun novels, fanfiction, porn, and even a song or two. But nothing ever came of them, and the one time that I submitted a poem to my high school's literary magazine, The Troubadour, it didn't get published. And let's be honest -- I never put much effort into finishing any of the novels I started. I just got bored of them, and didn't know how the story would pan out, so I quit. I figured when the right idea came along, I'd run with it and finish the novel.

Wrong. I had to force myself. It was a lot of bloody hard work, self-discipline, and weeping/hair-pulling/panicking sessions before I even finished the outline of the novel. Thank god I had that outline, too, because I'm not sure I could have finished the thing otherwise. So thank god that Brunel required us all to write outlines!

What I'm trying to say, in a very wordy way, is that I've been scrabbling about for years trying to do something with my writing. Anything. I've started so many novels I couldn't possibly remember all of them, and given up on so many projects that I put so much time and thought into. Sometimes I thought I'd given up on ever finishing a novel or getting published. And then I saw a novel-writing program at City University London, while looking for a Psychology program in London (my plans had been slightly different when I started looking at grad schools in the UK). As soon as I read the title of the program, it was like everything inside me lit up. This was what I wanted to do. Not psychology -- fuck doing things to make money, for a career. I wanted to write more than anything, and when I saw that novel-writing program at City University, I knew that was what I'd do instead. Obviously I didn't get into City Uni... thank god, or I wouldn't have met Claudia and Lucy and Matt and all the people who have been so amazing and integral to my work on this novel. But I didn't look back, and took a novel-writing program even though I knew it would probably never propel me onward toward a career.

It did something better. It reminded me what I want to do with my life. Why I exist, if you'll allow me to be melodramatic about the whole thing. It really was like a wake-up call to my soul, and writing this novel was the most difficult, stressful, exciting, fun, terrifying, and awesome thing that I've ever done. The fact that it coincided with a year-long move to London just made it that much more incredible.

So finally, after years and years of writing aimlessly and never finishing a novel, never getting published, never knowing exactly what I wanted to, or could, do with my writing -- I finished a novel. And I could not be more fulfilled, proud of myself, excited, and fucking happy. This is who I am. This is what I do. I'm doing it, I'm making it happen, and it fucking rules!

Just wait until, fingers crossed, this thing gets published. I'll have accomplished every single one of my life goals: live in England, write a novel, publish a novel. Bam. The end. Bring it on, then, publishing industry! Let's do this thang.

[Art by my lovely/amazing friend Emily, who read one of my earlier manuscripts and drew fanart of Cecily and the Duke for me. Let's all marvel at her incredible skills of an artist. And definitely go read her new webcomic, Living History; it's super awesome!]

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