I finished my first novel today. If you're paying attention, you'll know that I said that about a year ago. But this time, it's really finished.
About five years ago, I joined a critique group for novelists. I was not, at that time, a novelist. I had written poetry, stories and essays, but never undertaken something like a novel. But, I was in a time of new in my life: new husband, new child, new home, new job. It seemed like the perfect time to try new writing as well.
The members of the group have changed over the years, but what hasn't changed is the awesomeness. I learn so much from working with other novelists. Some of the group members are on their first novels, like I was. Some have written three or four novels. Others have published novels.
Last summer, I finished the first draft of His Other Mother. I took it to my critique group and they found all its problems. (Sigh). They were right. It had some serious problems. So, I shelved it for a while, and began working on a new project, another novel called Going Through the Change. Then, come Spring Break, when I had the time for some serious, intensive writing time, I took on the rewrite.
I finished the rewrite by the end of April. Then I started the re-rewrite. I was feeling pretty confident in the novel's ability to hold together, so I just started reading it aloud to myself. Good thing I did, because, besides all the skipped words and awkward repetitions, I found continuity errors.
So, that's what I finished this morning. I also finished my first query letter and this afternoon I'm sending my baby out there into publishing land to see if I can get paid for all this work. Of course, I'm hoping to sell it. But, you know, even if I don't, I have written something I am very proud of. I learned so much from writing it, and writing my second novel is a faster, cleaner process for all the lessons I learned. Now I can say that I am a novelist.