Yesterday, I finished the first draft of my spec novella, “Hook Agonistes”, at 18,100 words. This is the second story I’ve written since Fred woke up post-chemo around the middle of last month.
My reaction was pretty funny. I spent much of the morning in a mild but noticeable euphoric mania. I’m pretty sure I was rather a trial to Lisa Costello‘s legendary tolerance. Envision if you will me in a state of bouncy, happy, babbling squee. Because I’d finished something important to me.
At this point, I have no idea if the novella is any good. I never do right after I’m done. Muddle in the middle was particularly strong in this one. I went through the usual emotional stages while writing this, sort of Kubler-Ross for authors:
1. Excitement – “Yay! I can has writing!”
2. Dedication – “Must keep going, must be a good writer.”
3. Doubt – “Oh, man, this thing is sucking wind. No one will ever buy it or read it.”
4. Denial – “What, me? What story? Nope, no draft here. Just some fooling around. Never mind.”
5. Acceptance – “Yay! I can has writing!”
But I’m done. And that’s important, regardless of whether or how the novella pays off commercially and critically. I climbed the same hill I climb with every piece, even after drafting twenty novels and at least six hundred short stories. I learned the same lessons I have to re-learn every time. And it felt good. Because doing these things has gotten harder as I’ve grown progressively more ill with cancer. At a time in my professional life where I should finally be glimpsing some mastery of my craft, every word written is both a battle and a victory.
Did I mention that I had finished a story?