I finished the first 50,000 words of my novel on Nov. 31, 2013. I then uploaded them to the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo) website to prove that I succeeded in my quest to write 50,000 words of a novel in 31 days. Today, that novel has 69,741 words and 231 pages and I'm on my second draft. Up until this past year, the closest I ever got to finishing a novel was when I hit 115 pages on a 9th-grade novel attempt that ended in a locked document on my computer that I still haven't been able to open again. (Yeah, note to everybody out there: don't put a password on important documents. It could backfire royally).
While I spent all of November writing the book, I spent the majority of Spring Break editing it. The kind people of Starbucks and Panera (not to mention the neighboring man who yelled to me while I was on the porch) probably got tired of my face as I frequented their establishments for hours at a time, editing. I almost got tired of my own mind, spending that much time immersed in my own thoughts and words.
I learned several things through the process, though. The first is that, sometimes, I can be incredibly dumb. There are some sentences I penned in the first draft that I hope never see the light of day again. At one point, I unintentionally borrowed a line straight out of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars--which, since we're on the subject, everybody should go read right now. There are other things that I tossed in on a whim that, upon looking at again, I've realized could never happen...not even in an alternate universe where a simple thought can pull something into being.
The next thing I learned is that writing a novel is a long process. Sure, I already knew that in my head, but in my heart I still thought I'd be able make some quick edits and pop that sucker off to a publisher. Turns out, I've got a to-do list about as long as my first chapter that I've got to take care of before I can even think about publishing. Between editing, rearranging the timeline and writing additional scenes, then editing those, writing more scenes, editing them, etc...well, it could be a while.
I also learned, though, that there is a deadline for open submissions to a publishing house at the end of April. And me being me, I'm determined to be done in time to meet that deadline and send them the first couple chapters of my manuscript. If all goes well, they'll like those and want to see more and, ideally, will then give me helpful comments on what I can do to improve it before I send it to someone else.
So who knows? In a few weeks, I could be a much better writer than I am today.
Oh, and before you ask--no, you can't read it yet ;)