So, I did it. 40,917 words. 113 pages. All in three days.
Now I have a novella to show for it – one that needs massive editing, mind, and one that I’ve been finding little narrative holes all through the more that I think about it – but nevermind. It’s done. I entered the Three-Day Novel Writing Contest and I made my goal. I got the e-mail from the contest organizer that proves it. In January I learn what they thought of it and whether it was enough to get on the shortlist (my oh-so-Canadian goal).
Now, of course, the writing has to take a back seat to work and life and all of those other things that I put off. There are lots of scientific papers to write and other duties at work to complete. There’s a house to clean before the in-laws get here for Thanksgiving. There won’t be time to sit down and write anything more for a while, but honestly? That can’t wipe out the sense of accomplishment that this gave me.
I wrote this. I sat down and wrote a story that I like and that I’m happy with, beginning to end. The three days bit was fun and outrageous, but that sense of completion? I would have that whether it had been three days or three years.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt that satisfied. Like many writers, I have a hard-drive full of unfinished drafts and false starts, and sometimes I go back in my weaker moments to try and recapture the creative energy that seemed to come from those beginnings. I’ve often felt a strange nostalgia in reading these – a sense of the possibility that the story held, and a moment of sadness that it didn’t seem to take off from the ground. There were always reasons why they didn’t work – a plot point too unbelievable, a character too unsympathetic – but there was always some spark there, and I sometimes wish I could take those fragments and keep going on them.
But there comes a point when you need to finish something, and when you do, even if it’s not as exciting as publication, it always feels like the biggest thing in the whole world. This is the first story I’ve finished in a long, long time, let alone something I’m happy with, and I’m looking forward to letting it stew for a while before tackling it with an even greater vigour, trying to craft it into something even more than it is now.
I’d love to hear how other people feel when they finish. Do you get pleased with yourself, like I do, or does it just spur you on to greater things? What’s been the most accomplished moment you’ve had lately with your writing?