I finished just before four this morning. :-)
Last night I was writing a review for Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire and as is won't to happen with reviews of books I really enjoyed (and this book ranks as one of The Best Books I've Ever Read), the review went over 1000 words. Also, as is won't to happen, it pissed me off. ;) I mean, I could have written those 1000+ words in the WIP, right? Anyway, so after I finished writing the review I hopped in and out of the bath (which is an achievement for me, since I usually read about 2 chapters of the book I'm busy with, making the bath last around 20min to half an hour), made some coffee, and sat down to start writing.
I was starting Chapter 26, and about ten minutes after I started I realized that I was going to finish writing the novel. (this was between half-past 9 and twenty to 10 last night).
So, fired up, three swallows of coffee down, I launched into it. Six and a half hours later (I still can't actually believe that I wrote consistently for that amount of time - it might, though, explain why my back remains curved in such a strange way, ;) ) I wrote the last line, consisting of four words. Then I took a deep breath, sat back, and pistoned my fists into the air.
Zorro (our youngest Pekingese) snapped his head toward me and gave me a wide-eyed stare that said, "Doooood, it's very early in the morning and you're freaking me outttttt!" and all I could do was look at him and smile. I just didn't have the energy to get up and give him a hug. :)
And then I got into bed and slept the sleep of the satisfied and victorious. Now, though, the rest of the work is waiting for me. Starting today I'm going to be reading through it, just reading and making notes (I've got a cool eReader) to prepare myself for the absolutely necessary and inevitable re-writes. (And writing a suitable synopsis, and then a query letter!)
I hear some of you saying, "Take a break, you deserve it, relax!" but the thing is, I can't. You see, I want to start submitting this novel in March, and to do that I need to complete the re-writes and the editing by then. My work is by no means done. And I'm under absolutely no illusions that this book will be published (maybe ten years from now when I've learned much, much more and can fix all the *fucking terrible* sections) - it is, after all, my first novel, and first novels are rarely good enough to see the light of day. But I do want to get it out there so that, hopefully, an agent or an editor might be able to give me at least *a* reason why they don't want to accept it; not only will that help me to fix up this novel but it'll also help me to not make the same mistake again. That is, after all, the reason we call these things 'drafts' before they go out into the world. You don't tape up a leaky pipe, your replace the damn thing with something better. Repeat Ad Infinitum.
It's taken me almost a year to write this novel - I started writing it on the 24th of February 2010. There were times that I despaired of ever finishing it, and plenty of times that I thought of starting from scratch, just deleting everything. But I ignored that (I've become exceedingly good at switching off the Editor in my brain while I'm Writing) and pounded through it and finished it.
If you're reading this and writing your first novel, then please, listen to me: FINISH IT. I fucked around for almost a decade, jumping from project to project; when I collected everything I'd written, Fantasy-wise, in one document, I discovered that I'd written over 115K, and that very nearly broke me - I had enough raw words for a full-length novel but *hadn't finished a damned thing*, so I had, to be honest, fuckall to show for it. Sure, this novel wouldn't have existed without what I'd previously written, and I know that, but here I am, 1 year from being 30, when I could have written and completed my first novel when I was 21 / 22. I don't have any regrets, though - I'm pretty sure that I would never have been able to write this novel back at the wet-behind-the-ears age. There was plenty that I had to go through to be able to let all the characters in this book live, as they did, while I was writing this novel.
But seriously, when you start writing a novel, finish it. Pound through the crap sections as if you're armed with mjolnir itself, and you'll be forcing yourself to write better. By the time you reach the end, you'll be able to look back and say to yourself that you are damned proud of what you've accomplished and that you've learned absolutely bucket-loads of what will help you to be the best damned writer you know. And friends, you *have* to believe that. You *must*. If you don't, you've put a gun to your head and have placed your finger on the hair-trigger. :)
But I need to get ready to go to work, so I'll stop blabbing (wish I could sleep, but work pays the bills that keeps me sitting on the couch that gives me a place to write that gave me the laptop on which I write that gave me the money to buy books that I loved so much I wanted to write my own stories, etc. etc. etc.), and leave you with a cool post I saw last night that will definitely come in handy for me when I start working on the synopsis and query letter for the novel: check it out. :-)