Oh shit! Now I’ve done it.
My novel is finished. What the hell do I do now?
Maybe I didn’t think this all the way through.
For five years I was perfectly happy to follow my characters around on their adventures, occasionally intervening whenever they got too crazy, too inconsistent, too off-topic, or just too boring, and dutifully recorded all their thoughts and actions. Now, having done all the reasonable tweaking I can, poring over grammar, even adding a deliciously devious plot twist at the very end, I’m finished. If I were in kindergarten, this would be the moment where the art teacher would be taking away my gouache painting before I ruined it. It’s DONE.
So now what?
This is where things get complicated. See, I’ve never had anything published before. Well, certainly not a work of fiction, let alone a 300+ page novel; the one and only bit of published writing I can take credit for is a companion document to a permanent exhibition at (what was then) the Canadian Museum of Civilization. That was in 1991.
So what have I been doing in the meantime? That, my friends, is for another entry.
Suffice to say that for now I’m in unchartered territory. I’m on that part of the map where (at least as far as I’m concerned) fantastical creatures lurk and there are notes in the margins claiming “Here be dragons.”
I’ll let you in on a secret, if you promise it won’t leave this room: I’m not a trained author. I never went to author school. I had a story I wanted to tell, I figured I sort of had it in me, that I’d always had some ability to stitch sentences together, and (mostly) nobody told me I couldn’t. I never read any of the guides, the “how-to”s, the step-by-step recipes of how to write a novel for fun and profit. If I had, I doubt that I would have started this thing in the first place. I originally approached acting the very same way: never went to theatre school or took acting classes, just launched myself in feet first (“Shit, I can swim and the water looks deep enough: let’s go!”).
So the long and the short of it is I’m not published, I’m not represented, I have no experience, and (thus far, at least) I have no following that doesn’t have some familial obligation to support me. Hence this blog. I’m hoping that surely I’m not the only one in this situation. This whole Internet thingie was supposed to bring otherwise disparate people together into like-minded communities, no? Surely I’m not the only one who’s reached this point, so I’m hoping (if you’re out there) that you’ll connect with me. Meanwhile, I’m going to talk about my process, my discoveries, trials, gaffes, and hopefully the occasional epiphany, and generally rant and ramble about all manners of stuff.
And so we begin. Right now I feel very much like Bilbo Baggins, standing on my threshold, walking stick in hand, about to step onto a path that will take me who-knows where. Of course Bilbo was alone; I’m hoping you’ll join me, at least part of the way.
I hear there are dragons out there. I would dearly love to see one.