A Place to End
Early this afternoon—at about 12:15pm—I had an experience that I’ll never have again in my entire life. I embraced it calmly, perhaps unable to react because it didn’t seem real. Truthfully, as I write this about an hour later, it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m guessing later on it will—the realization growing as the day progresses. Maybe I’ll feel it this evening when I pop open a bottle of champagne. Its not that I’m not excited. I am excited! And I’m happy. It just doesn’t yet seem—real.
But still, after six and a half years, the last five months of which have been incredibly intense, I have accomplished something great. I am overjoyed to announce that I have finally completed the first draft of my first novel, ‘The Education of Ryan Gregori.’
And its a whopper! The final word count is just over 140,000. That equates to between 375 and 400 pages of a paperback. The novel contains 779,386 characters, so I’m sure if you add in deletions, revisions and spaces (do spaces count as characters?) it probably took about a million keystrokes to complete.
Since New Years Day alone I’ve written 40,000 words.
Its a huge accomplishment—unquestionably the greatest personal achievement of my life thus far. So I’m taking today to celebrate and hoping by the time the sun goes down it finally feels real.
You may be thinking—why celebrate so early? Isn’t there a lot more to do? Its not exactly as if the thing is being sent off to the printers. And you’d be right to think so. I’m not done with TEORG—not by a long shot. But here’s the thing:
Even if this novel is destined to ultimately take up space in a desk drawer in my office, rotting away for all time, it doesn’t change the fact that I wrote it. Is it my best work? No, not yet. Thats what second and even third drafts are for. I told the story, I got to the end. Now I’ve got all the time in the world to fill in the details and make it beautiful.
But its still been written.
It exists. Thats something I wasn’t able to say before right now.
The final chapter was born a bit underweight. Perhaps it’ll grow in revisions, but its about 2,000 words shorter than any other chapter. I think thats fine. Just as I struggled to find A Place to Begin back in September when I made this project public, finding a place to end is equally difficult. What qualifies as enough when it comes to resolution? Does it suffice to just tie up the loose ends or does the story deserve a moment to linger?
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Revenge is better with a side of bacon. . .
I honestly don’t know. I’ve never written ‘The End’ before. I’m satisfied though. I think I did it justice.
I think its a happy ending.
I’ll let you decide, though. After reading through the entirety of Part 3 and correcting any blatant spelling or grammatical errors, I am going to put the rest of the manuscript up at the end of the week. I’ll remind you that it is a draft, so I’ll make no promises as to its overall quality at this point.
Ultimately, however, I think I’ve really got something here. Many of you who have been reading along have been kind enough to let me know the ways you can relate to the story, and thats the whole point. Please, keep reading! Tell me how you feel about it—the good, the bad, and especially the ugly.
And if you haven’t been reading? Its not too late. I need a little distance and perspective before I can start the second draft, so I am going to try to let my mind lay fallow for a while. If you’re just starting, click over to Chapter One. I’ll leave the entire manuscript up until March 1.
After that though, you’ll have to wait to see it in print.
Because its going to make it to print—
I’ll end by saying that this experience has left me changed in the best ways. I’ve learned what I’m capable of—that I can see anything through to completion given discipline and the proper motivation. If I wasn’t before, I am a writer now. Not just because I completed the draft of a manuscript, but because there is nothing else I can ever imagine wanting to be so badly. This is a part of me and I have so many stories to tell.
This has been just the beginning of something greater.
Thank you so much for all your love and support over the last five months (and much longer for some of you). Please enjoy the rest of the story when I release it at the end of the week. I couldn’t have done this without you.