“The End” Part 2 – The Heartstrings

I’ve often thought that there is a magical moment when something really good happens in my life and I’m the only person who knows.   It’s a special time, when the good news is all mine.  No one has reacted in a way I didn’t expect.  No one has said anything weird, or worse, mean.  The good news is a flickering glow that is all mine.

That was how I felt on Sunday night when I finished my book.  I started crying as the last words were typed.  Not a big sobbing cry, but just tears welling up.  A happy cry.  A sigh of relief cry.  A quiet amazement cry.  These people and their story that had been rattling around in my afthead for so long were out.  Their story was done, or at least the first part of their story was done.  I knew what happened.  They knew what happened.

I wrote “The End.”  I saved the story.  I backed it up, twice.  I calculated how long it took for me to write the book, and wrote down how many pages and words a little piece of paper.  I’m bad at remembering numbers, and if someone cared enough to ask how long my book was I wanted to have that information at hand.

I imagined how I would tell my family and friends the big news.  Who to tell first?  What will I say?  Should I be dramatic or off-hand?  Will they hug me and spin me around in excitement, or will they cry themselves?  My husband is on a different continent.  How will I craft the text that will be the first thing he sees when he wakes up in England?  Subtle or over-the-top?  I imagine the happiness each person will express.  Everyone will be as proud and elated as I am.

However, I am not the center of the universe and the real world doesn’t work like the little movie in my head, so before I started telling I turned towards reality.  I knew everyone would be happy for me, but in the way you are happy for someone else’s good news.

So I started.  Some people were distracted by their own life and their own situation.  Some reactions were weird.  Maybe they always wanted to write a book, but have never managed to get the words down on paper.  Maybe they just had a friend die.  Maybe they are hurt that I’ve been writing this book for two years and never mentioned it to them.  For whatever reason, they are a different happy than I imagined.

There is a flip side.  Some friends and family were happy in cool brave ways.  They said things I don’t experience outside of my deepest darkest center.  They joke about when my book will be made into a movie, like The Martian.  Of course I harbor such ridiculous dreams.  Heck!  I even have a song picked out to play during the opening scene, but I would never say that out-loud.  I want to shush them, lest they attract the attention of fate who wants to squash my hubris.  They offer knowledge and information to move me onto the next phase: sites, magazines, friends and family who can help me publish.  They want to read my book.  They tell me I inspire them.  These will be my first readers.  They are the ones I will hand a huge pile of paper and say, “Tell me what you think.”

My favorite was my daughter.  She told people, “My mom finished her book.  She read me a part once.  It was about the Wizard of Oz.  It was really good.”  I love that she understands that this is a big deal and that she knows it is special that she got a sneak peek.  Only she and my husband have glimpsed the pages of the book.  My kiddo is proud of me.  Who doesn’t want that?

Once I told all the people I walk around with in the real world, it was time to tell my blogging friends.  Really, I held out telling you because I’ve enjoyed my few days of imagining how I would tell you and how you would react.  You are in the arena with me.  You are all writers and whether it’s your quotes, your own novels, fiction, stories, or humor you are putting out there, you putting it out there too.  You are the ones who read my short story and were so wonderful and generous with your likes and your comments.  You made me brave about being willing to make something up in my head and share it.  You are the ones who will read the bits of my book that I will scalpel out in a few weeks.  The good bits that aren’t quite right for the final product.

I turn to you, just like my in-person friends, and ask, do you know what I do next?  It’s time to move to the next beginning!  Thank you for coming this far with me.  I finished my book!!!  Eeeek!!!

“The End” Part 1 – Novel Statistics

In a past blog post I told you about how my BFF Neil Gaiman told me (and several hundred other people) that as a writer I needed to finish something and get it out there.  He also told me that I had to call myself a writer.  Well as of this last Sunday this writer finished the first draft of her first novel.  Yes, dear readers, my first book is done!  I literally typed “The End” at the end because, holy crap, THE END!

So, because I am who I am, I can now start analyzing the books stats!  Are you excited?  I am!  See, I keep a spreadsheet documenting how much I write each day.  (Totally normal.  Everyone does this, I’m sure.)  Ready to discover book stats with me?

Book start date: July 15, 2013

Book end date: August 2, 2015

Book duration:  748 days

Book length (pages): 171

Book length (words): 98,942 words

The novel took me 2 years and 18 days to finish.  On average I wrote 132 words per day.  Let’s marvel over that tiny number.  132 words per day can get you a long novel in just over 2 years.  Of course that number is misleading.

Actual writing days: 88

Max words in a day: 6630

Min words in a day: 23

Average words per writing day: 1124

I only wrote 11% of the days I had available, or about 1.5 days out of every two weeks.  That seems like a paltry pace, even for a fulltime working mom.  Digging deeper I find that from October 21, 2013 to January 7, 2015 (443 days, or 1 year 78 days) I only managed to write on 7 days producing 8,018 words.  Yep, those were the Afthead family depression days when my emotional and mental energy was needed for something more personal than my novel.  Interesting though that I still averaged 1145 words per writing day during that stretch; I am consistent.  If I take out those 443 days as an anomaly I find that my book took 305 days (let’s say 10 months) and on average I wrote 29% of the days, or 4 days every two weeks.  That seems about right with my sense of how the composition went and also seems pretty reasonable.  If I start now and keep up my average writing pace, I could have book number two done in under a year.  That’s cool!  I know, I’m ignoring the second draft of book one in this number and assuming good fortune in the Afthead world.  Still, I feel proud of what I accomplished and, with caveats, confident about what I could accomplish going forward at this reasonable writing rate.

One last set of numbers for those of you still with me.

Max week = 12262 words

Days writing in max week = 3

Average words per writing day in max week = 4,087

This of course was the last week of the novel.  The end was coming and I could feel it.  At this pace, we’ll call it the QMJ (Quit My Job) pace, I could write a second book in 24 weeks.  Whoa!  That gives me some perspective about how real writers manage to produce a book a year.

That’s Part 1 of the book finishing adventure.  Next we’ll move onto part 2, the emotional part.

The End.  (Those two words.  Bliss I tell you!)