How It Feels to Finish a Draft

Yesterday morning, after a session lasting a few hours, I completed a second draft of a horror novel I’m writing.

Now, given the long and turbulent history of this blog (much of which has been removed from the public), me saying I completed a draft of anything probably doesn’t mean much. I must have proclaimed proudly that my previous book book was finished no less than six times from the years between 2014 and 2018.

A lot has changed since then. After a nice education, years of frustration and failure, and writing professionally for the last three years, I’ve learned a lot about the craft. I’ve even learned a lot since the completion of my previous draft, to the point that the stack of pages I finished last year is vastly different, and inferior, to the stack I have now.

The story I’m currently working on has been in my heart for a long time. Since at least my high school days. Back then, I wasn’t a terribly good writer, and often stumbled with a story shortly after the idea was formed. It combines a lot of my favorite things, including horror, urban gothic, dark fantasy, police procedural, all with a pinch of werewolves to give it an extra spice.

Is the book done? Not yet. There is still a little work to do in order to polish it, from better character development and dialogue to making sure the prose is effective without being pretentious. And given this current block of pages is some 134,000 words long, there will need to be a lot of cuts before an agent takes it seriously.

I’ll have to lose a lot of what I love in the story, but doing so will ensure that only the best remains behind. The editing process on this is one I look forward to, even though I have a lot of darlings to kill.

In the meantime, the manuscript and me have earned a short rest. I have no less than six other projects demanding my attention, one of which is already nearing completion itself. I think I’ll get that one finished before heading back to this story. After that, there will be plenty more to do.

I do feel very different about finishing this one as opposed to my previous misfires. Back then, I felt a swelling of almost delusional pride in the work. Now, I look at the stack of pages before me, and can’t help but feel exhausted, and full of a grateful humility. Hopefully that’s a good sign that my evolution as a wordsmith has taken me in the right direction.

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