The Real Final First Draft

I’m a couple of months late to the party, but it’s my party, so I make the rules. Which party? The “I finally finished my first draft” party!

I know I’m still nowhere close to actually sending my novel out to agents, but this is definitely a milestone! It felt pretty darn amazing typing those two final words, on that day in January. The End. The End? Yes, THE END! At least now I know I’m capable of finishing something. It only took about two years!

I really am proud of what I have so far, though. If it were up to me, I’d already been rushing it out to all the agent and publisher addresses in my massive book of listings… But I know this would be naive. I am definitely overly eager to reach my goal, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. At least I’m motivated.

A lot of people in my life have been perplexed over my lack of ambition, when it comes to careers and whatnot. I think they’re wrong though; I am ambitious, just in a different way. I’m currently very happy teaching ESL, and am not looking to upgrade, even though the pay isn’t great. But I wouldn’t say I have no ambition… After all, I’m trying to get a novel traditionally published! This is a goal I’ve had since I was a child. I’m not trying to be a CEO, but I am trying to be an author. That people should look up to one, and down on the other says something about our society. Why isn’t art valued? Why are aspiring fiction authors (particularly those of the fantastical variety) seen as little kids with their heads in the clouds? I think imagination is goddamn important, and should be cultivated throughout one’s life. We have enough high flying executives. Maybe I have a chip on my shoulder about this, but it’s something I feel strongly about.

But I digress. I’m very proud of my first draft. It has a solid beginning, middle, and end, like a first draft should. The characters go through journeys and come out changed. I managed to tie all three story lines together. It’s good stuff!

(Sidenote: There’s another post on here referring to my “second” draft of the same project. The thing is, I kept stopping and going back and starting over, so it felt like a second draft, though the first one had never been completed.)

So what’s the next step? Redrafting, of course. My best friend in Canada was amazingly swift at reading my draft and giving me great, useable feedback. I also gave it to two other friends, but they are being much slower. I could proceed now, but I think the more perspectives I get, the better. I’d love to find more beta readers, but unfortunately, there are very few people I trust with it! My requirements are pretty narrow: my beta readers must be people I know, must be avid readers or writers, and most of all, must not be obnoxious. That last one may sound a little harsh, but let me explain: we all know it’s difficult receiving negative feedback, even if it is constructive. It’s necessary but hard on the ego. But if it’s coming from someone who irks me already, I just don’t if I can take it! So sue me!

I’m part of a great Facebook group for fiction writers, and people often look for feedback on that page. It’s a great source of advice and a great way to get opinions on what you’re working on, but I’m just so damn paranoid. I don’t know any of these people in real life. My friend told me a true story about when she was the victim of plagiarism, and I don’t want to risk it. There must be some way to protect yourself, so this is something I’m still toying with.

For now though I’m just gonna wait for the feedback from these two friends, and celebrate my victory! I also have another idea for a whole other project, so I’m trying to honor that without losing steam on the first one! Wish me luck!



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