Drumroll, Please ...

I finished the first draft of the book (aka "THE SHITTY EYES CLOSED FORWARD AT ALL COSTS DRAFT")! It's 342 pages and 2 inches thick -- and while it's no masterpiece, there is a beginning, a middle, and end.

Plus I managed to complete the mss in less than three years from first glimmerings of an idea in February 2004 to typing THE END today -- less than two years (20 months, to be exact) if you start counting from the day I began writing the first page of this most current and complete draft in March 2005.

I am very pleased with myself. I managed this while ALSO planning my wedding, taking the entire summer of 2004 off to wed and honeymoon, taking five weeks off in 2005 to gallivant around Africa, AND taking much of this summer off to work on my essay for "Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys."

So I rock. Especially since the last novel I wrote from start to finish took me eight years and eleven partial drafts before I completed a start-to-finish mss.

Now, before we all get too excited about this, let's remember: I finished the FIRST draft. There are at least two more draft coming before I'll feel comfortable showing the book to friends and family, much less professionals. So don't expect to see a glimmer of it until near the end of 2008 -- I'm going to put this draft aside through the holidays, read it with pen and post-its and a legal pad in hand in Jan '07, try to brainstorm the issues I discover during that read from Jan '07 through Memorial Day -- I'm assuming that brainstorming is all I'm really going to be good for in the first months of sleep-deprived baby-haze -- then try to start Draft 2 over the summer.

Draft 2 will be the "FIX THE STRUCTURE, PLUG THE GAPS, REALIZE THE PLOTS AND CHARACTERS AND THEMES DRAFT." Once Draft 2 is done, I'll start the process again: set the mss aside for a month or two, then come back to it with pen and post-its and a legal pad in hand, then brainstorm the issues and begin Draft 3.


Draft 4 will incorporate reader notes into the "AS GOOD AS I CAN MAKE IT DRAFT," and then I'll release it into the publishing world.

Wow. Amazing. Taking the next few days off to mark the occasion.

Then it's back to work, focusing on story drafts for my collection,