I’m right on the verge of crossing the 100,000 word mark. And, man, am I feeling it.
I don’t know if this is universal, but towards the end of the first draft of a novel, I start to get…weird.* I lose words. I get spacey. The line between the story and the rest of my life starts to blur, because even if I’m not writing it at that very second, I’m damn well thinking about it. You’d think this would get better as the story nears the end and I have less crap to keep inside my skull, but apparently not. I just replace the stuff that’s already on the page with new stuff that I have to remember and think about. It’s getting crowded in there. Which I hope is why I start talking to myself more around this time in a story’s life.
I think it’s because, at this point, the weight of all the stuff I know I’m going to have to go back and fix in the first pass edit almost outweighs the momentum of the story itself. It’s a big boulder that I’m pushing uphill, and if I stop for a second, it’s going to roll back and crush me.
But—and this is the important part—I’m still having fun.
I know a bunch of you just went back up to read the part about crushing boulders before coming back. But it’s true. This is the best part of the zero-draft process for me: when it’s finally starting to come together. Not on the page—that’s a mess I’ll have to sort out in January—but in my head. It’s becoming real, and once that starts, you couldn’t pry me away from this piece with the world’s biggest crowbar. Sirens have no power, new ideas come around and then decide to wait quietly in line for their turn. Because right now I am fucking busy.
This part is not easy. It’s a bear of a story at this point, and not the cuddly kind. The mutated, six-limbed, rips-your-face off kind. And I could not be having more fun.
*Weirder, all right? Now you don’t have to say it.