I feel dizzy. I’m giggling and crying. My hands are shaking, and I’m staring blankly at my living room wall. Frankly, I feel kind of sick to my stomach. Because it’s done. My book, Life without Harry, is done.
Outlining began in January. Writing began in February. A complete overhaul happened in April, and now, as of August 16, 2012, the first draft of my new novel is finished.
How do you encompass this feeling? Finality. I’ve spent months with these characters, nights thinking about them, days obsessing over dialogue. I’ve worked out the entire movie soundtrack (lots of Florence + the Machine and Alex Clare with Punch Brothers thrown in). I’ve traveled Phoenix without leaving my house. I’ve become my lead—or perhaps, she became me. I’ve been honest with myself and with my manuscript. Now, the first draft is done, so what do I do?
Buy champagne. Probably, yes. My parents are here, which makes it even cooler that the monster has been conquered. Classes start next week at Glendale Community College, and I’m taking one about revising your manuscript. Clutch. But literally, I mean, what do I do RIGHT NOW? I feel exhausted all of a sudden. Ripley the dog is sleeping at my feet, snoring softy. She has no idea what just occurred twenty-four inches from her face.
There’s a sense of melancholy creeping nearby, since in a way, I just said goodbye to several great fictional friends. There’s a sense of joy at mission accomplished. There’s trepidation, knowing the next steps—revision, workshop, sales—are the worst parts of being a writer. I can feel my heart beating hard in my chest, and now, again, here come more tears. What a mixed bag.
Life without Harry is no longer some dream in my head; the story of Sam, Paul, and dear Sig are on the page now. Their story has come full circle. In a way, mine has, too, because how can I say this book is all fiction when I know it isn’t? No novel is ever all fiction.
The clouds in Phoenix today are for me. They add a sense of calm to my raging emotions. They add dimness to the blinding light of success, because the book is done, but my job is far from over.