Finishing My First Novel Has Created A New Box To Check Off

For the past two-and-a-half to three years, I’ve been writing a novel. I would wake up, scratch out 1,000 words, then move to my real work of the day. When I took a full-time position, I would try to write and edit before work. That didn’t always happen, so I would try at night. That also didn’t always happen. Then I returned to freelancing, and one goal I wanted to accomplish was that book. So I went back to editing, re-editing, and re-re-re-re-editing.

Finally, I finished. I had read it enough. Tweaked it, destroyed it, rebuilt it, refined it, beautified it. I had done what I could, without continuing the process of revising ad infinitum. Two weeks ago, I simply realized I needed to move onto the next step.

Of course, now begins a new struggle of actually selling the book to a publisher, which will come with all sorts of additional edits and changes. But that process – finding an agent, finding a publisher, getting an editor, and seeing it in paper – leaves me with little control. Besides sending out queries, talking to friends who might know someone, and following up, there’s little I can do on a day-to-day basis to move this along faster. After all, the agents have to read it, like it, consider it, and convince their shop to pursue it. Then, following that, a whole other process begins that I can only imagine at this point.

So, based on what I can control, I finished a 78,000 word novel – a dream of mine. But I don’t yet feel accomplished for doing so. I almost feel sad that I don’t have benchmarks to reach, word counts to finish, pages to edit. Because while writing the book, I had those clear daily accomplishments to work towards and look forward to. Now, it’s mostly email and wait. Excruciating!

I’ve heard of this happening to people who train for a long-term athletic goal, like a marathon or triathlon. After the months of preparation and high of crossing the finish line, depression seeps in over the next few days – once the soreness wears off – as athletes struggle to find order to their life, since they no longer have a training regimen or another goal. I felt it following a triathlon I ran in 2012. Maybe I’m experiencing the same after-shocks now?

My wife thinks I should shout from the rooftops. “You just finished a novel! You know how many people dream of doing that?” And I should. I feel I will once I see that people enjoy it. But maybe that’s why I don’t yet get a sense that I’m done. Because I’m still waiting for the acknowledgement that I’ve finished from an outside source, other than my own writer’s intuition. Maybe I need someone else to say, “Good job.”

If that’s the case, I hate that I feel that way. You don’t write a novel because you think you will make millions. You hope upon hope that others will read it, but you don’t really know. So I constantly told myself, “I want to write this novel because I want to write it.” There’s truth to that, but now that I’m done, I want to share it. Even though I’m no longer in full-control of the process, I want others to read it. Comment on it. Hopefully, love it.

This feeling may drive other authors down the same path. At first they just want a book published. Then they just want a good review. Then just want a best seller. Then just want a Pulitzer. That constant need will justify the hours upon hours spent hunched over a laptop, aching over whether it’s ‘to’ or ‘too’ or ‘beautiful’ or ‘lovely.’ With the right recognition, all the excruciating time spent debating the mundane will make it worth it. It’s something tangible that tells you that you’re done.

That’s the frustrating part about writing. You never really know when to stop. And having that moment to relax, celebrate, and reflect on the accomplishment sounds absolutely delightful.

Until I get that signal, though, I’ve got emails to send.

If you’re interested in reading the first three chapters of the working-science fiction novel ‘The Office of Time Control‘ or if you’re a book agent looking for more information, you can contact me here

 

I Almost Died A Year Ago Today. What Should I Do About It?

A year ago today, I nearly died.

I don’t mean I had one of those near-death experiences where a truck almost hit me or a falling piano almost crushed my unsuspecting self as I walked below. No. I mean my body gave out. It twisted in a way that without modern medicine, I would not have survived. Even with modern medicine, the urgency to fix my ailment meant a tricky and potentially dangerous procedure. And it all happened within seven hours. A blur that sent me to the hospital balled up in pain, pleading for medication, praying that this wasn’t the end, encouraged that it was fixable, and eventually unconscious, without a grasp of my past, present, or future. If I had floated away in that moment, I never would have known.

But my then-fiance would have. She received a far different diagnosis then I did, and she had to suffer longer than I would.

Yet, a year later after I should have died, historically speaking, I don’t know what lesson I should have learned or what changes I should make. I don’t know what it’s that I should even remember. On the day of my deathiversary, should I even acknowledge it?

Let’s back up and I’ll explain what happened. On March 5, 2014 around 2:00 in the morning, I woke up with a sharp pain in my side. I’ve had this happen many times in my life, the causes of which have ranged from simple gas to food poisoning. On this early morning, the pain felt stronger than typical gas, and I ate leftover Chipotle for dinner. I was leaning towards food poisoning.

The next four paragraphs get a little graphic, if you want to skip over them. Continue reading

“You Should Be Doing the Becoming, Not Your Damn Fool Computer”

Here’s a think piece from Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country. This was his last published book while he was alive (there was one published posthumously). It’s a collection of essays, where Vonnegut discusses politics, life, death and society. I came across one line, that might help you think about how you view and interact with the technology in your household, whether it’s a smartphone, laptop or tablet. He created this in 2004, but it still resounds today.

A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut (page 56)

“Today we have contraptions like nuclear submarines armed with Poseidon missiles that have H-bombs in their warheads. And we have contraptions like computers that cheat you out of becoming. Bill Gates says, ‘Wait till you can see what your computer can become.’ But it’s you who should be doing the becoming, not the damn fool computer. What you can become is the miracle you were born to be through the work that you do.”

Running Through Death Valley

I’m not sure whether this post will make you laugh, think or cry, but it’s certainly inspirational. This week, the annual Badwater Ultramarathon took place. What’s the Badwater Ultramarathon? A 135-mile race across Death Valley! It took the winner over 24 hours to finish. But other competitors, were running for nearly two days.

Here’s a photo from the events Instagram feed. Feel free to click the link if you were so inspired, that you want to sign up next year!

Talking to A Stranger From Walt Whitman

Many of us fear the idea of talking to complete strangers. But what do we fear? And why do we fear it. Today, take a look at this poem from Walt Whitman. Is talking to someone new really that scary? Maybe it shouldn’t be, especially when put in perspective. Hopefully, this helps you think about changing your views or tactics moving forward. Or maybe it helps you think about thinking about changing your tactics. Whichever. Enjoy.

To You by Walt Whitman:

Stranger, if you passing meet me and desire to speak to me,

                  why should you not speak to me?

And why should I not speak to you?