About 80% of the way through my first draft, I had an opportunity to pitch my novel. It was great exercise, forced me to focus in on the essence of the story I was telling, and helped me bring it in to the conclusion. Here’s the pitch I wrote:
Jed, a boy outcast among his own, discovers he can talk to plants… and soon realizes his gift could end 2,000 years of human enslavement. Will he be the people’s savior, or will the ensuing war destroy everything worth saving?
I finished the novel yesterday, the first draft. Headed straight into revisions.
Feels like there should be fanfare, and at the same time it feels like there shouldn’t. Had a little mini-party on Facebook yesterday, but mostly it feels unreal. And I don’t think it’s going to feel real until the draft is ready for beta readers.
Perhaps the issue here is that my cat has polyps in her ear. That is not a metaphor.
Maybe the real issue is that once I’ve accomplished something significant, I realize, well, if *I* did it, it must not be that big an achievement. Finishing the second draft of a novel, that would be a big accomplishment. Except, when the manuscript is finished I’ll probably feel the same way, except then I’ll think, if it gets published, THAT will be an accomplishment. And then only if I become famous. But only if I’m as famous as Rowling. And as enduring as Shakespeare. No, God. Being as important and well-known as GOD would be an accomplishment.
Because guess what: I adopted an elderly stray cat several years ago, got her doctored up, fell absolutely madly in love with her, and then recently went over a year without updating her shots or medical care and now she has uncomfortable polyps in her ears and she’s probably going to die in pain because I’m a terrible, terrible cat parent. (Reality check: The jury is out on the painful death.)
This was supposed to be a celebratory post, but obviously I’ve got issues.
I took a break from this mess for a minute, planning to come back and probably delete it all and just leave the pitch at the top and nothing else, because really, this is supposed to be a celebration, Heather.
Then I went and read this. And decided that I’m probably not the only novelist ever who has struggled in this particular way, and that maybe there is value in sharing THIS part of the journey too. This messy, depressive, anxious, uncomfortable part. So here I am.
My cat chose me. This is literally true for me, not just in the way people say their children chose them, or God chose their children for them, or whatever. I mean that I walked up to a yard sale and my cat was there waiting for me, and she came over and said, “Please take me home. I have nowhere else to go, no one to turn to. And I even like your kids.” She said it in cat language, of course, that winding-through-your-legs-purring language cats speak in. And her fleas and her underweight body and her greasy hair and her ear mites also said, “Please, take her home.” (Actually, the ear mites and the fleas would probably rather I hadn’t, come to think of it).
I keep telling myself these stories to pull myself through. And I will pull through. I will learn to love my success. I will. And to forgive myself.