Sunday, August 11, 2013

I Finished My Novel

Back in February of this year I began writing a story. It centered around the single idea of what it might be like to be a gambling savant. From there it began to flourish into something more than a story, and before I knew it, the thing was off and running. Yesterday morning, six months, thirty chapters and many plot twists later, I have a completed novel on my hands. Each chapter has a title, but the overall work does not, and it needs to be proofed and edited, but the hard part is over.

Although it was a great feeling to finish it, to resolve the thing, to wrap up some of the loose ends, there was also a tinge of sadness. When writing a novel you create a small universe, and populate it with characters of your own design. You endow them with personality, strengths and weaknesses. You introduce conflict; mitigate that conflict with humor where you can, but sometimes it feels better to let the conflict run amok. You discover that your feelings change about your own characters as you’re writing; ones you were quite fond of at first begin to disappoint you like rebellious children. Then you turn on them, meting out literary justice. Then, while driving down the road, or taking a shower, an idea overwhelms you and you suddenly know exactly what will happen next and you can’t wait to write. But eventually the ark of the story begins to exhaust itself and it must wind down. You must find a way to end it. This is the hardest part. There are so many ways you can go. You write the final chapter a hundred times in your head but none of them feel right. A week goes 

by, then two weeks. Then in a flash of inspiration, it all comes to you while you’re cutting the grass. You sit down at your laptop and in two hours, it’s all over. You’re happy with the result, but sad because the world you have created has come to an end. Your characters become frozen in place like a museum exhibit.

So, now what do I do? For me writing is a hobby, a marvelous diversion, but not my profession. I don’t know the first thing about getting anything published. I’ve heard about self-publishing but don’t know enough about the process. Obviously, I like my work but I have no idea whether it’s even good enough to publish. Is there a market for a book that features gambling, dying parents, an ugly divorce, one unsuccessful suicide attempt and one successful one, adultery, ghosts, a gorgeous redhead, mysterious dreams, spiritual transformation, the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius, and a dog with unexplained powers?  Guess I’m about to find out.