Well, I finished The Novel. At least a draft of it. I mean, there is a lot of editing I need to do, but for the most part it is all there.
I really have no idea what to do next. I know nothing about the publishing industry. In all honesty, I don't even know if I want it published. My only thought, all along, was that when I was finished I would send it to Amy to have her read it. Because she is the only person in the whole world who will be able to tell me if it is okay. But I haven't even been able to do that yet.
It feels so totally weird to be done with it. I've been developing this story and these characters since the spring of 2001. It's not like I've thought about it every day since then, but I have thought about it a lot. Especially before I would fall asleep at night, I'd play it through my mind over and over again. Now that it's written, I'm kind of at a loss. What do I have to think about before I fall asleep? The things I was trying to avoid thinking about when I started writing this in the first place, I guess.
I am just so exhausted. I started writing sometime in January, and honestly, every single day and night since then, I have worked on it in any spare moment I've had. For the most part, it felt like I was losing my mind. Aside from giving birth, it is the most intense thing I have ever done. It's not like I ever had any other opportunity in my life to write this, but in a way, I think I was also putting it off all these years because I knew it wasn't going to be easy. I had to completely enmesh myself in world that was difficult and often horrifying, and the only way I saw to get out of it was to just push myself to finish.
And the end result is... what? I wasn't qualified to write this thing. It isn't about me, or really anything that I've ever experienced. I did a lot of research to try to make it as realistic as possible and to try to really put myself in the shoes of the character whose story I am telling. But really, I don't know the first thing about any of this stuff. I could have gotten it all wrong. When I'm reading it over, I get the feeling that it is mediocre, half-baked, and overly melodramatic. I have a friend who is a real writer, and I would be horrified at the thought of her ever reading it. It is not densely symbolic. It is not artistic or literary. It may have an overarching message, but I doubt it would do much to make the world a better place. When all is said and done, it is really just a story about a girl. Probably not even that good of story. I could send it to a hundred publishers and it would get rejected. Or if someone actually did publish it, it would be bound to get a lot of criticism, and I don't think I could handle that. Seriously, reading or hearing negative comments about this thing that I've sunk so of my life into might just ruin me. Writing The Novel was time that I could have spent with my son.
So, I don't know what to do. In one sense, it is a relief to be done. But in another sense, it is just so disorienting.
Tomorrow, or Friday maybe, I will print it out and send it to Amy.
Thanks for reading.