There are not enough caps locks in the world for what I am about to write:
I FINISHED THE BOOK.
I realized early this week that I was getting very, very close, and then yesterday I blazed through some edits, wrote the ending, and then sobbed uncontrollably.
It was this unexpected feeling that I recognized as "holy shit, I finished something." I'm not really the finishing type. I've started many, many, many (there aren't enough manies in the world) projects, only to abandon them early on. Frankly, it's simply a miracle I ever graduated from college. I have my husband and his endless goading to thank for that one.
And I wouldn't blame anyone, least of all you, if they thought I would never finish it. Part of me thought I would never finish it. My husband admitted last night he'd been worried, since I'd claimed many times: "It's almost done. Seriously. Almost. Give me two weeks." I said that for maybe nine months. I think my friends were embarrassed for me and spared me the humiliation by keeping their inquiries to a minimum.
But now that I've written this thing, I think I can die happy. I've wanted to write a book for as long as I can remember. I've been saying it for decades, and then I finally got the opportunity, and I wrote the fucking thing.
Now, I make no claims as to the readability of said novel. I do not have an MFA -- I have a BS in journalism. Journalists are really good at churning out a story a day, like little word factories that drink too much tequila and have the chief of police's personal cell on speed dial. A novel is like, I dunno, maybe a hundred newspaper stories crammed between book covers. I approached the project quite cockily, and I am walking away from it with my limbs barely intact. Any person who manages to write a good novel is basically a goddamn hero, in my opinion. Any person who manages to write a shitty novel certainly deserves my admiration for their effort. I will never look at shitty novels the same way again.
So you may wonder what my next step is. My next step is to have a select group of people read the book, and give me their completely honest feedback so I can turn this thing into something people will actually want to read. Meanwhile I'll be fishing around for an agent. If I am able to secure said agent, I hope she will be able to find a publisher who wants to print my book. If all of that fails, I will publish the book my own damn self. God bless you, electronic publishing, and the free horse you rode in.
One last thing I want to say about this is that if I can write a novel, you can do anything. We have a select few years when we have the youth and energy to do things we dream of doing. If you're anywhere even close to being able to follow your passion (ie you are not homeless and on crack), you need to make it happen. Excuses are weak. Giving the best part of yourself to someone or something that treats you poorly and makes you miserable is a waste of time, and later in life you'll only regret every extra day you stayed and let that person or company squash your passion. All the cliches apply: life is too short, and no one at the end of their life ever said I wish I'd worked more.
And now? It is time for all the margaritas, everywhere.