I am done. The sixth draft of The Swan Harp was completed between six and seven o’clock last night, just in time to open the bubbly before supper.
This has been an incredible two-day writing binge. On the first day I was responsible for cleaning up from lunch and also for making supper. Even so, I got a lot of writing done, a lot of cutting and rearranging, and a lot of notes about what still needed doing.
I’d already read through over half of the novel this week in the car, making notes and doing small corrections, so there wasn’t as much to read on Monday. I’d also already done major rewriting on the last sixty-some pages, which meant there wasn’t going to be a lot to do there.
What surprised me was the word count. I was cutting things out, you see. Yes, I was. And I was rewriting passages, condensing things, tightening up, or so I believed. Yet the page count, and the word count, kept climbing. Go figger.
On the second day I had no work to do around meals at all. That was going to be my workhorse day, when I just ploughed through whatever needed doing, and indeed it was. By three p.m. I had a list of half a dozen things that still needed doing. Theoretically I would be able to go on writing after supper, but that was only theoretically.
Six o’clock is happy hour at the binge, when most of us put work aside. Pauline would be in the kitchen putting supper together. One member of our binge group, Kevin, who writes at his own home but joins us for supper, would arrive with his dog Charlie between six and seven. My husband, David, was planning to arrive about seven, with Sky. Gordon and Angie are dogsitting Angie’s parents’ dog, Shania. That’s three dogs and four people (Angie was away on Sunday) in the kitchen, and the kitchen is right next to the living room, where we write en masse during the binge.
And the “no conversation” rule is suspended at happy hour.
Clearly my real deadline was happy hour. Deadlines keep me focused. I was focused as all get-out yesterday. I was done about six-thirty. I’ll say this for my binge-writing buddies – they kept the conversation down until I was done. David arrived, but sat out on the porch with the dog. Kevin was late. That precious extra half-hour did the trick.
I remember the feeling from finishing my very first first draft, and from finishing my first draft of The Swan Harp. The feeling is disbelief. “What?” Then it sinks in. You can fiddle and fuss forever with a manuscript – no work of art is ever completed, only abandoned. But this one has come to a finish. There is nothing big that needs to be done with it. The pieces fit together, the story moves smoothly and concludes as it was supposed to.
“I think I’m done,” I said.
“How many words?” Gordon asked. The tally was 149,661. “You have to write another three hundred words!”
Nope. Done. We opened the bubbly. Everyone had some – well, not the dogs, but even David, who no longer drinks alcohol, had a bit. I sent the MS out to some readers. I’m done.
And this morning I woke up with a scene in my head and thought, “Wait a minute; how come she’s in that scene?”
That’s okay. I’ll deal with that when the comments come back. Frankly, I could use a week off of the novel, and I’m going to take it. Comments are due back by September 14th, and I’ll get back to work then.
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