There are things that always feel great. The taste of the first strawberries when the summer starts. Opening a new book by one’s favorite author. The touch of a pillow on the face after a long and tiresome day. No matter how many times experienced, they always feel the same.
And finishing one’s writing, be it a short story or long novel, is one of those things.
On Saturday I wrote the last sentence of the novel I’ve been writing for the past six months. I didn’t write “The End” at the bottom, because part two will most likely be due, but aside these two words I do consider the first draft finished.
It’s not the first novel I’ve written. It’s not even the first novel in English I’ve written. And it still feels great, like a huge accomplishement and as if it was the first one ever. It has the most complex plot and worldbuilding I’ve attempted so far, and in comparison to my previous attempts, the English—though far from perfect—is the most decent. It’s the first one I completed in the last two or three years, and the first one that took so little time to write. And having finished it feels as great as the first novel I wrote in Polish years ago.
People asked me how am I going to celebrate, and I have to admit I haven’t considered it at all. When I wrote the final sentence, I thought “I probably should open wine,” but I used it for the risotto, and the lonely bottle of beer stranded in my kitchen wasn’t even in the fridge, so instead I drank some coffee and grapefruit juice. And I allowed myself to play video games for a whole day. Finishing the first draft feels like celebration itself, so nothing else was needed.
I stare at the word count, at those 136k words (or 766k characters if you prefer to count this way) and I feel a hint of sadness that I’m not going to sit tonight to add another scene to the story, to write another amusing dialogue between the two main characters whom I grew to like and know as well as some friends of mine. If you ever finished reading a book, but you didn’t really wanted it to end, believe me: writers can feel the same about their own books.
So, what now? I’m going to take few weeks break from the novel, and then start editing it in July. The first impression of my alpha readers was positive. Both my partner, who over the past months listened to me reading every single scene and my friend, who read the raw text I updated her every so often, enjoyed the story, but there are things to be fixed before I show it to anyone else.
And finishing that first draft doesn’t mean my commitment to writing 1000 words a day is finished. There are still 6 months of the challenge ahead, and I’m bound to keep going until the end. Which means I will start writing a new novel soon: with 365k Club short stories get finished way too fast.
So if anyone asks how my weekend was, I can say: I’ve finished my novel, and it feels great. It always feels great.
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.