on hitting milestones

by Sandra

Milestone one, it’s my birthday. I guess that’s not really an accomplishment, except that fact that I’ve lived for 32 years. Although that’s not as impressive as living say, 92 years. I’ve got a way to go.

Milestone two is a bit more … milestone-y, I guess. I finished the fourth draft of my novel today. This is the draft I started working on when I got laid off from my job in January. I’ve been working on this book for two and a half years, but this is the first time it’s got a beginning and an actual end, so for me this a real, live accomplishment-accomplishment. Let me just pat myself on the back for a moment, if you’ll allow me.

Now it’s out of my hands and off with a few readers. They are trusted friends—some editors, some just avid readers—who will traverse all 390-some pages of completed manuscript and tell me all the ways it’s inadequate, so that I might make it right.

I got a little emotional sending it out, I have to admit. I don’t feel precious about the material in any way; I’m not even fully convinced it’s any good, all put together the way it is. That’s why I’m letting people look at it now, so that I can hopefully make it suck less. What I was getting emotional over I think was simply the burden of working being lifted off my shoulders. This story has been with me for a long time, nagging me, always tapping me on my shoulder when I take too long in the morning to get going or dawdle too long on the internet. It exerted a certain kind of mental pressure, and with the completion of this draft all that pressure dissipated as I sent it along as an email attachment; finished for now. Finished. Good work, you’re done, exhale.

Tomorrow, my roommate and I embark on a journey to Oregon. She for two weeks, me for three. I know that when I get back the pressure will start to build again as I begin to get feedback from my readers. It will be time to incorporate. It will be time to correct. It will be time to start draft five.

But for now, for the next few weeks anyway, I will enjoy my freedom.