Friday, July 12, 2013

I did it.

Rowan Oak Was the Home of Southern Writer William Faulkner

Rowan Oak Was the...
Stephen  Alvarez
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I finally did it.  I wrote a novel.  There is still plenty to be done.  I have to revise – probably more than I realize.  In fact, I’m fairly certain “revise” is an understatement.  And I still have to find an agent – haven’t even started looking yet.  I’ve published my other two books in the new-fangled DIY fashion, but I’d rather like to try the traditional route this time.  I started another novel about four or five years ago, and I never got beyond about thirty-five thousand words.  Just couldn’t figure out what to do with it, I guess.  Then, in between moving twice and changing computers, I *lost* what I had written.  Ugh.  So I started over with a new story, new characters, new everything on November 1, 2012, and I finished on July 11, 2013.  Not too bad.

In the early evening, I knew how close I was to finishing.  I received my latest copy of Garden & Gun magazine and was reading a book review written by none other than the master of the pen himself, Clyde Edgerton.  I began reflecting on my own style and how far short it falls of my opinion of Edgerton’s work.  He offered a quote from the book he was reviewing.  It was so poetic, so esoteric, so like something I would have been assigned to read in college.  The author was pictured wearing a wool suit and looking very Faulkner-esque and intimidating.  I hung my head even farther down.  Could I ever attain this type of literary greatness?  Shaking my head, I opened the lid of my laptop an hour later and wrote from my heart.  The last chapter, the last words.

I hardly realized what I had done, though, until this morning.  I had a warm, fuzzy sense of accomplishment when I typed the words, saved, and shut down the computer last night.  But it didn’t hit me that I had actually come to the end of “banging out the first draft” for the first time in my life.  Fast forward to this morning. I was getting a new watch battery at the jewelry store and found a bracelet I was tempted to buy.  I thought, Oh, that’s ridiculous.  Impulsive.  I can’t buy that.  Maybe if I were celebrating some accomplishment.  First, it occurred to me that the new trolley tour project in which I have been involved finally launched its inaugural tours last week.  I could have celebrated that, but decided that wasn't exactly worthy of jewelry.  Then, as I walked away from the counter, I remembered that I had finished writing the first draft last night.  Well, that’s something.

Later in the morning, I whizzed into the Beaner’s drive-through for a cinnamon chai tea.  I shook my head at myself once again, wondering how I could justify blowing nearly $5 on a tall cup of tea, no matter how delicious.  But as I drove away, the weight of my accomplishment fell on me like a boulder.  This is a first in my lifetime.  I laid down perfectionism, pushed through, and I finished!  I did it.  I became misty-eyed.  I thanked God, and I asked for His help with the rest of the project.  And I sipped that $5 cinnamon chai tea, without guilt, all the way home.  I deserved it.