Yesterday, I finished the sixth draft of my novel, Painting Celia. Technically, I finished today — it was 2 A.M. on a Sunday night, and I had promised myself I would complete the job over the weekend. I was almost too tired to feel happy about it, but my husband is thrilled he won’t be hearing me say “I should be editing” every day. This book, which has been through one round of editing, now heads back to the intrepid Christine Bode of Bodacious Copy for round two. I’m sure it won’t need it. I’m convinced I’m finished. I’ve reviewed every letter and punctuation mark so many times; surely, there’s nothing left to improve.
Ha, good one.
Christine tightened my prose far more than I expected. Those ellipses… how else could I indicate a character’s muddled train of thought? My comma splices were cute, they were my voice! And if I used the word “honest” 147 times, that’s because it was honestly integral to the story.
I know more brilliant edits will come back and that I’m one step closer to being finished. Draft one, a clumsy head-hopping mass of internal dialog that explained the characters’ thoughts on this day, then the next day, then the next day-I vomited 4,000 words a day for three weeks and it was done. Draft two was a huge restructuring and took months. Drafts three and four saw some craft applied over twice as long, with sudden clarification of symbolism and theme and pace. For draft five, I decided to switch to Free Indirect Style in a dual POV and it took a year to truly master. Draft six was short by comparison, a mere three months. Probably because Christine did all the hard work, which I then rolled back just enough to still feel like my words were mine.
When will it be finished?
Next week, I’m attending the 2023 Willamette Writers conference. I’m starting to think of myself as a real writer (I at least do the time) and enjoy meeting others who put themselves through this process. I intend to buy books, network, and grab dinners if the cool kids let me join. Painting Celia will go through a lot of pre-scheduled critiques by professionals, which I already have big feelings about. I’ll also be pitching to agents and publishers. I do want to be traditionally published, though I have the skills to go indie if I want. One way or another, this book will be for sale.
I’ve written my query letter, blurb, bio, and synopsis. I’ve begun practicing my concise-but-human pitch in the mirror. I have a 99.9% done manuscript ready to be fired off in 1-, 5-, 15-, and 50-page increments. I’ve sent out four queries to see if my package is good enough to get a bite, and got one partial request so far. That’s good! Still, I’m learning that those packages are never done because everyone wants something slightly different. A two page synopsis is barely related to a one pager. And after the conference, I will be armed with professional feedback I can then incorporate. Every document and fragment of text matters, but surely, one day they too will be finalized and polished.
But when will it be finished?
I’ve already been letting my mind tease around Book Two. I planned this Incubadora universe as a franchise, creating a space for any character to land and have any type of conflict. With an hostel for artists, there’s no end of passionate weirdos who could roll in. I can avoid Flanderization but still have my beloved Celia and León watching over each story. I ‘invented’ a Bridgerton series model (hadn’t seen it yet), which is very now and a true selling point. I only need to get started on Book Two.
When will it be finished?
Will it be finished?