I had a different post in mind for today, but of course this breaking news had to come first. (I’m writing this Thursday evening, but I think I’ll save it to post tomorrow, just because I seem to be having trouble getting my thoughts coherent enough to put down.)
Oh my God you guys, I think I’m in shock.
I finished writing my book!!!
I know I just posted that thing the other day, but I had three days off of work this week and told myself that would be a good time to go out and write. Apparently it was! I plugged in my laptop, settled myself in a red leather booth seat in the corner of my friend’s cafe, chugged down two cups of coffee, and set out to finish the book I started almost ten months ago.
Ten months. That’s a pretty long time, in the general scheme of things. I’d been originally planning to work on another project, Mercenary, but that wasn’t getting very far. And then one night, in my apartment at school up in Michigan in that chilly month before I got to go home for break, I realized that the project I REALLY wanted to work on was The Life of Gaia.
Now, LOG, as I came to refer to it fondly, was an idea that I’d been mulling around for years–since sophomore year of college, in fact. At the time it didn’t look much like it looks today, and although a few plot points stayed the same, those years spent in my mind changed LOG a LOT. (Keep reading to see a list of some little tidbits you didn’t know about the story! (Not that you know a whole lot about it… Sorry about that!!)
Anyway, I hit the ground running, although I was far from convinced I was going to get any further than I had before. Except that this time it FELT right. The timing was perfect, my momentum kept going, and I got a good 20,000 words or so before I began to slow down. But by then I realized that this was a make-it-or-break-it deal for me. I was at a crossroads with finishing college soon.
I needed to prove to myself that I could do this, or I needed to move on.
So I put on my big-girl panties, and I kept on writing. Sometimes when I didn’t want to. A lot of times when I had better things to do. And sometimes when it was a holiday. (I’m looking at YOU, surprisingly productive 8 hour writing spree on Valentine’s Day!)
And you know what? The word count kept rising steadily upward. The bar on the counter I put on the front page of my site (in a move of PURE GENIUS) was incredibly motivating. (And, as you can see below, this draft has finished its wordcount at about 91k words. WOOT.)
Not to mention that I had two things I hadn’t had before. A blog that I felt accountable to, and a group of writer friends at NMU to steer me in the right direction. Reading my chapters out loud at those meetings made my writing seem more real than it ever had before. Instead of something that existed solely on my computer, it was now getting FEEDBACK. And that feedback, generally good, also spurred on more creative energies.
I guess it’s kind of like the ‘If a tree falls in the forest’ bit. If I write a book, but no one else has read it, did I really write a book? Previously that answer was ‘No, I guess not,’ but with the addition of people to read and people to talk to about my writing process, that tree was finally falling–and not just metaphorically.
So what did I do when I put down those last few words?
Stared, mostly. Wracking my brain for anything I missed. Thinking if there was anything left to add, and realizing that the only work left to do was editing. (Where I essentially rip up the log cabin I’ve just built and build a mansion where it stood.) When my friend Riley came over to see if I needed more coffee, I gave him a big hug. “I did it,” I said, probably sounding as stunned as I felt, “I just finished my book.”
And what happened after that is a little blurry. He paid for my coffee and lunch, which was SO nice of him. (Riley is such a sweetheart; he’s going to be one of my beta-readers.) I walked out to my car quickly, because it was raining and I didn’t want it to get on my laptop. Then I got in and started up the car, staring at the parking lot, still thinking that I must be missing something. But there was nothing left.
So I drove home, with my windows rolled down even though it was sprinkling, singing “Roar” by Katy Perry and crying. Which of course I knew I would do eventually. I’m a very emotional creature–just asked my Dad, who told me the other day, when I was worried about one of my gerbils, “I don’t know what I expected, though, from the girl who ran around the house crying for 4 hours because Tom Hanks lost his soccer ball in Castaway. You wouldn’t have been so sad if HE had died!!”
But this has been a crazy ride. It’s also a dream come true.
And I guess, the moral of it all, is thanks for sticking around while I try to figure out just what it is I’m doing here.
Fun Facts About Life of Gaia
1. The main character, the titular Gaia, was originally named Renga!
2. Originally Tyr was a very minor character. Sofia and Kilgane weren’t added until AFTER the draft was already started, and another character, intended to be Gaia’s BFF, was moved to another book.
3. LOG started out as a COMIC. That’s right! It had about 20 pages before I got busy with other things–I guess I realized it was always supposed to be a book. That or I just wasn’t a comic artist, ha ha!
4. In my early planning, Aeslen City, the main setting of the book, was supposed to get overrun by bugs. (Don’t ask why I thought that would be a good idea… Just proof that whatever comes out in the first draft is almost always TERRIBLE.)
5. The story was loosely based on an adventure game a group of friends and I used to play back in high school. YUP. This happens a lot, don’t be fooled.
6. In my mind, LOG is part of a series that spans 8 books… This could take awhile.
BONUS! Here’s a picture from the comic: