I reached the end of the 12th draft of my novel early Monday. It stands at 103,000 words and 294 pages, if the formatting is correct.
For some odd reason, I didn’t celebrate.
I guess it’s because it doesn’t mean anything.
As soon as I finished, I started a fresh file for Draft 14. (I inadvertently labeled it 14, and I’ll fix that later.) This one will consist of me hitting spell check, to get the easiest/most egregious mistakes, and then reading it as if I didn’t write it. It’s not a mixture of things that have somehow remained intact since the first draft and things I wrote as recent as 24 hours ago. There’s probably a continuity error in there somewhere. I caught one last night when I made a last-minute change to the sheriff’s last name.
And I also added a chunk of dialogue because I had inadvertently written a character out of the book. The ending in which the character played an important role no longer exists, so if not for the addition, there would have been a “went to visit family” situation from which there was no return.
There’s already a section I don’t like. I’m going to give it a chance by reading straight through. If it sounds bad to me still, I’ll work on it.
I’m expecting this “draft” to go a lot faster than the others.
Once I hit the final sentence again, I’m making an open call to my closest friends for their feedback. I already have five people in mind, and I want no more than seven. While they’re tearing it apart, I’ll finally write the query letter I’ve been wanting to write. I’ll share it if and when I get a deal.
But, deep down, I’m really excited that this draft is over. When I started it, it was 2013. I had a computer I didn’t expect to die on me. Then, when I had a functional computer, I came down with a pretty bad case of writer’s block. And then I had to figure out how to balance things like taking care of a dog in the morning when I like to write well into the night.
It’s close to being real. Once my friends get the correctly labeled Draft 14, I’ll take some of their criticism and apply it to Draft 15 and that’s the draft that goes with the query letter. After so many fits and starts, it could be on its way by this time next year.
Unless it’s garbage.