And like a baseball player sliding into Home base in slow motion, the crowd surging in delicious honey paced delight to its feet, the enemy player’s faces melting into dismay, I wrote out the last ten, five, one word, and was done.
Done! The story is finished, the last chapter is complete, the good guy has done his best and the bad guys have retreated grumbling into the shadows, cursing and gnashing their teeth. Now, am I going to have to go back and rehash, rewrite, cut and slash, dissect and analyze, prune and tighten? Indubitably. I’m going to have to parse and work work work till my second draft is the glittering, formidable novel I’ve been imagining while swinging in my hammock out in the lazy afternoon sunshine, sipping on mojitos and listening to Mika.
Take a deep breath. Open your novel in Word. Place your mouse cursor on the side bar, and find a random quote:
Page 84: Julia slid into a seat next to Eric, and opened her book to where her finger had it divided. Thomas sat down next to her, and forced himself to pay attention.
Page 102: Leaving the library, the two of them had discussed in eager tones how they might execute their strike. Bolt cutters, gloves, flash lights, a crow bar – all of which should be purchased in cash.
Page 28: Thomas slowly sifted through Eric’s tale, trying to imagine those final weeks as the two boys dared each other to further extremes. The darkness beneath those buildings, the run in with the cops.
Page 124: “Yes,” said Thomas with a sigh, and then gave Martha a smile, “Jormusch is at it again.”
“You’re fucking kidding me,” she said, stopping and turning to face him. Pedestrians parted about them like water around a rock.
Page 139: Eric shook his head slowly, “No, I don’t think that’s it. Look, if his goal was to get both of you, to make you both – lose hope? Then he did the right thing. If he’d attacked you, he would have solidifed your sense of self worth.
Page 16: But it was her, unmistakably her, wearing a thin black sweater under a bright red and puffy sleeveless vest, something that looked to Thomas like a fashionable and toned down life jacket.
I remember writing each page, each line, the thoughts bubbling through my mind as I scribbled it down, where I was going, what I had just finished, the doubts and concerns and elation and impatience. My novel! 150 pages in Word, 90,000 words, about 450 pages in a regular book. All crudity and unrefined, an oafish, drunken boor, but ready for a make over, to be shorn of his beard and unsightly muttonchops, to be dressed up in designer clothing and then unleashed upon the masses.
Will people like it? Will people like Thomas and Julia, will they despair when Julia falls, will they come round and end up liking Martha? And Eric, brilliant, shattered Eric, lost till the end – what will they think of him?
Now – I just read all of Stephen King’s On Writing, and he sternly recommends putting my novel away in a drawer for six weeks and forgetting about. Put all thoughts of Buffalo, of that failed exorcism 150 years ago, of Henry weeping in the shadows of the hotel room closet out of my mind. Fuhgeddaboutit, move on, work on something new. And then, after I’ve moved on, pulling it back out and reading it with a fresh and critical eye. That’s when one can best pull out the knife and kill one’s darlings, shear away the fat, catch the mistakes and plot holes. But ah! I want to go over it now, want it taut and shimmering by tomorrow, and sent out to my first readers pronto!
But no, no no no – wait, pause, catch your breath, savor the moment and then move on. Alright. So be it. I’m going to go and open a bottle of beer, play some good music, dance around my room, imagine the endless success that this book will garner me, and then tomorrow awaken to a gray, sober world, in which I’ll tackle new projects with this set aside.
Ah ah ah! I’ve finished, I’ve finished, and I’ll post the Mika video here below to sum up my mood, my energy, my hopes and desires!