5 Things to Celebrate About Finishing a Draft

This month we’re talking specifics: all the ways in which we as writers can make life different. Last week we got into 8 weird places to put our characters. We talked the week before about 13 surprising ways to add depth to genre stories, and the week before that about the things we writers know that non-writers don’t.

So this week let’s throw caution to the winds and celebrate.

You finished a draft of your story! An entire book!

Let the good times roll, because—

  1. You didn’t know you had that many words in you

    And no, they’re not all just variations on “and then.” They’re all possible variations on twenty-six simple little letters, higgledy-piggledy arrangements of sound and thought and meaning, and the images that leap out of them are a magic of physical manifestation that put you in actual touch with something you can’t explain but know now no one has ever lived without.

    The miracle of fiction.

  2. The party in your head just got a little more fun

    It used to only be you and your alter-egos, the Nice You and the Mean You. Most of that was full-contact wrestling between the Nice You and the Mean You, with the Real You standing by, shaking your head, and saying, “Hey, guys. . .guys. . .guys! It’s getting kind of warm in here—”

    But now that’s only a minor aspect to the 24-hour excitement. Now the main stage is taken by a whole host of riveting characters meeting, talking, dancing, sparring, lying, confessing, stealing, recovering, moving and moving and moving around each other in an infinite choreography of fascination. The temperature’s gone way up. . .and you don’t mind at all.

  3. You’re smarter than you used to be

    You know so much more about words and what they can do, language and what it’s meant for, communication and why we need it to survive. You also know far more than you ever have about human nature and how the thousands of interactions between people even in a single day add up to life and what it’s all about.

    You even get—in an ethereal and intangible sort of way, when the wind is right—how the whole of humanity is greater than the sum of its parts.

  4. You’re more alive than you used to be

    Your careful, note-taking attention to vivid details has made your world vastly more of an experience for you. You hear more things, see more things, feel more things. When you’re miserable you can identify a hundred nuances, when you’re laughing you hear the interweave and cacophony of how voices blend and emerge, when you’re quiet your physical self is so alive it’s like you’re on drugs. And free! Without hangovers!

  5. You’re saner than you used to be

    Now and for the rest of your life, even when you’re overwhelmed, you still have this foundation on which to stand: the incessant inquiry into, What is happening to me? What are its significant and insignificant parts? How am I reacting? What do I understand about it? What if it’s something other than what I’ve always assumed it was?

    Your options for understanding yourself and others are opening outward in all directions like eyes seeing for the very first time.

    And even more importantly, your options for understanding your own beliefs about reality and meaning are far more complex, profound, and intriguing than ever before.

    You’ve gone to the core. You’ve wrestled with the angel.

    And the angel has taught you—just a smidgen of—their secrets.