Five and a half weeks after my 30th birthday I can officially cross the first thing off my 40 Before 40 list: I just finished a novel.
OK, I’m cool now, I swear.
Today I wrote those two words that every would-be novelist dreams of writing: “The End”. And I earned them, dammit! I wrote a 70,000-word novel before I wrote those words.
I have to be honest with you all right now. I typed those words, printed out the whole manuscript, held it in my arms – the heat from the printer still warming the pages – and cried. I wept tears of joy. How often does that actually happen in your life?
Now, to be clear, this is just a first draft. And I think it’s kind of terrible. (Of course, yesterday I loved it, the day before that I hated it and loved it, etc.) There are many hard, long days of editing, revising, and rewriting in my future. But honestly? I can’t wait. I’m beyond excited about polishing and perfecting this baby.
Let’s get another thing straight as well. This is the first book in a science-fiction, dystopian, YA-crossover trilogy. This is not high art. For the last several years, I’ve been serious about writing a novel. I wanted to write literature, the kind of work that would draw praise from the critics and stand the test of time. I still want that.
But mama also needs to make some money. As one of the women in my writing group pointed out, “I’d rather sell-out by writing commercial fiction than sell-out by giving my soul to a big law firm.” Amen to that! If I want to be a writer (and I do) it’s time to start thinking about writing something that a large number of people will want to read.
I’m so grateful to my friend for saying that to me. It freed me to write something fun and entertaining and “light” – it gave me permission to write something that might actually sell. And you know what, I had the time of my life doing it!
So if this post can do that for any of you, please, take it. Write whatever you damn well please. But if you want to write, dammit, go do it. It’s amazing!