Four years ago, yes, four years because I remember Little L sleeping the innocent sleep of the truly infant in her car seat as I worked next to her, I started writing a book.
It was a little story about three girls and it petered out pretty fast. In retrospect it would make a pretty good short story, but as a novel, it didn’t stand up.
Still, I worked on it every day through my maternity leave, heading to a coffee shop as soon as C was dropped off at daycare and working until the baby needed to eat.
And then I went back to work and life went to pot. I wasn’t sleeping, I was working insane hours, and my stress level was through the roof. The book died in my computer.
A year later I quit that job and decided to become a freelance writer so I could focus on my writing… and on my book. Only when I opened up the file that story no longer called to me. Instead another trio of friends wanted their story told.
So I did.
For a year I juggled freelance writing gigs and novel writing. The story came together seamlessly, story lines weaving in and out of each other perfectly, characters coming to life as my fingers danced over the keyboard.
I laughed the day I typed The End at the close of the epilogue. I had written a book. A whole book. one with a story that made sense and characters that grew on the reader.
And then two year and a month passed.
Two years of dipping in and editing a chapter here, a story line there. Two years of lugging my manuscript around with me everywhere I went. Two years of not working on the book actively and yet still getting through two rounds of editing.
Last month I got mad at myself and gave myself an ultimatum. One month to finish the last round of editing, to pull together loose ends, to cross Ts and dot Is.
The first day I edited 60 pages. The second I did 30. And I chugged through day after day. It wasn’t easy; I hate editing. I had to bully myself and bribe myself into it. I assigned myself taskmasters and put my ultimatum out for the world to see so they could hold me accountable.
Two days ago my sister and mother came into town and I worried that I wouldn’t get the last 50 pages done before midnight September 30th. My heart sank at the thought, which made me realize that for the first time in two years I was really serious about my goal.
Last night I came home after a dinner out with the family and I sat myself down at the kitchen table. I resisted the urge to dabble in email and play on Facebook and I just plowed through.
I finished reworking the epilogue at 11:58, a full 24 hours and two minutes before deadline. I went to bed with a smile on my face.
For sure, my head is howling that it’s not ready, that it could use more work. I’m ignoring it.
I’m spending October researching agents and crafting my letter. This will happen, and it’s not going to take another two years.