Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finished My First Draft, But I Feel Nothing...

Maybe it’s my cold.  My nose is stuffed up and the only thing I’ve felt like ingesting all day long has been black coffee with sugar.  I finally finished the first draft of FOSSEGRIM this morning.  I’ve been working on it pretty much non-stop since the end of July (hense one of the reasons my blesence, i.e-. blogging presence has been so scarce lately).  

The draft topped out at about 70 k and I think I’m pretty happy with the ending and the plot.  I won’t know until two days from now when hopefully my head clears and I’ll be able to do a first read through to check for any obvious problems.

This is the first time I haven’t been excited to have finished a rough draft.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally starting to realize how much work is still left to do before the book is really finished. 

Still, with my other projects, when I saw that final chapter coming, there was at least a small (often frantic) thrill of accomplishment; I’d be completely elated at having  something with a beginning, middle and an end.   Something that at least resembles a book.

This time?  Not so much.  I finished writing the scenes.  I followed my outline.  It was all very mechanical.  The characters did what I told them to do.  There were no surprises. 

It’s like I just skipped over that giddiness and went right to focusing on what needs to be done to whip this puppy into shape. 

I don’t know why this bothers me.   I just keep waiting for the ‘yes!’ feeling to kick in.   I am a little relieved that I managed to get through the draft before I start work again in October, but that’s about it.

I don't think it's the story.  The story is probably my best ever and I think it could have lots of potential.  I just don’t know what my problem is.

Maybe I’ve had one too many cold & flu meds. (step back from the computer, Katie.  Blogging under the influence never ends well.)

Has this kind of ‘eh’ feeling ever happened to anyone else when they finish a first draft?  What do you think it means?  “Achi!” (cause that’s the noise I make when I sneeze)  *wiping watery eyes and nose*  Am I even making any sense?

45 comments:

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

I suspect it means you are getting to look at this as a profession. The first draft is the first step, the rough form in the marble that still needs to be coaxed into its true shape. But you also know that you can do that, and that the process of doing that is hard and exciting, and scary as hell. So... the first draft is a milestone on a long road. The fact that you aren't jumping up and down about it is a sign of growth and experience--and you should be celebrating THAT!

Feel better,

Martina

C.E. said...

I hope you feel better soon and maybe that elation will come then? Or maybe after your first run through of it? I'm betting its just the sickies.

Will Burke said...

Like a hundred other things, there'll never be another First. You'll need fresh firsts, like first book in a store, first raving fan at a Signing, first raving fan stealing your garbage, first movie option, etc...

LTM said...

it's the dang *creepy* query process really sucks the joy out of writing. I know. But BE HAPPY! You did it again--you're a WRITER! Yay, Katie!!!

toot tootoot too!! (that's one of those little horn things. Or maybe it's your nose... ;o)

Jeff Hirsch said...

I get what you're saying but it really is awesome that you got to where you are. I'm somewhere in the middle of a work in progress myself and can't wait until I get where you are and can actually start making it into something that resembles a book.

Good for you for finishing! I'm sure all will look better when your cold clears up!

Candyland said...

You make sense. But I have an ear infection, so maybe we're both not *right*
It's daunting to finish a rough draft, bc there's SO much work to do.

Laura Marcella said...

Sure, I know what you mean. A first draft is just that, the first. You know there's plenty more drafts to come. Sometimes that can take away from the euphoria of just finishing one draft.

I hope you feel better soon and your elation at having the first draft done and out of the way kicks in soon!

Anne R. Allen said...

I had the same thing happen when I finished my rough draft last Thursday. I wanted those bells and whistles, but nothing happened. All very ho-hum. Yawn. It's done. 83K words, just as I planned. Think it's a damned good book but...ho-hum.

Last night I woke up at 4 AM and realized the ending was all wrong. It's what I had planned, but it was flat. I have an idea for a whole new ending now and I'm about to get started.

Maybe there's something that isn't quite finished about yours, too?

Bethany Mattingly said...

Congrats on finishing! Maybe if you step away from it for a while before you start editing it might sink in and then you'll get that excited feeling again when you start editing because it is good. I hope you'll get that feeling eventually. I love that feeling and I'd be sad to loose it. :(

Cherie Reich said...

I hope you feel better, although I'm right there with you with having a cold or whatever it is.

Congrats on finishing your first draft. I would say the two I've finished so far had different outcomes. The second one, I was excited about finishing, but the first one I was terrified. All I could think about was "What have I done?" Of course, I still haven't gotten around to all the other work, and at times, I'm excited about them; other times, scared to death. So, I think it is okay not to have a feeling about finishing it this time. *smiles*

Nicole Zoltack said...

I think it's a sign of growth as a writer. After all, you know how much work there is after you finish the book. Editing, revising, querying... Writing is just the first step in the long road to publication.

Tom M Franklin said...

I'm with Martina -- you realize you've finished only one step along the way. In some ways, I think getting to Draft Zero is easier than getting you MS pared down to Draft One.

Then again, when we were working with our realtor to buy a house we went out with him over several weekends, looking and looking and looking. Over lunch one day he said, "Some people end up buying their house out of sheer exhaustion."

Sometimes getting to Draft Zero is like that for me. And it's difficult to celebrate in the midst of sheer exhaustion, especially when I know I have another week or two (or three) before it's ready to send out to my ßeta readers...

(Okay, now I'm feeling far too tired to even think about writing)


-- Tom

Talli Roland said...

This happens to me. I used to get so excited and now... I just know it's the first step and there's still a lot of work in front of me! Still, it is a major accomplishment.

Hope you feel better soon!

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss katie! im thinking maybe cause of being sick and knowing you still got a lot to do on that book it got you feeling not so excited about getting it done. who wants to even think when your not feeling so good. just take really good care of your self and dont do any thing on that book til you feel lots better. i hope you feel better real fast.
...hugs from lenny

Clarissa Draper said...

So far, I've always felt elated when I finished a draft. If I ever do, I'll suspect I'm not liking the results of my manuscript.

CD

Kathryn said...

Yeah, I get that too. I think that since my first novel (which I thought was finished about ten times) still needs a bit of work, even though I'm still revising my second one and on to my third. It's like "Eh.." because, just as you said, there's still lots of work to do.

Melissa said...

I hope you feel better. Get well soon. I HOPE this isn't you starting to look at writing as a profession because I'd hate to lose those wonderful feelings of elation. I want to be professional but I don't want any of my giddyness or happiness to be fade.

Congratulations on finishing and I wish you all the best on fixing it up.

Piedmont Writer said...

Well, even if you are feeling crappy, and even if you are feeling bleh, at least it's done. You don't have to spend any more time "writing it", now it's just re-writing it.

Hope you feel better soon.

Tamara Narayan said...

The worst 'eh' feeling I get is reading my ms and not feeling excited. It's as if all the daunting statistics about getting an agent and then a publishing deal just suck all the joy away. Time for a chocolate break! Or blogging break.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

It sounds like you're tired and not feeling well and know what still waits ahead of you. My guess is that when you feel more perky, you'll also feel more excited. :-)

Jolene Perry said...

It's like how fun it is to be pregnant for the first time and then the next time it happens you know how great it will be but you're also all too awake of how much work will be involved.
Maybe that happy giddiness will hit you at the part of editing when most people contemplate throwing the computer out the window.

Nicole L Rivera said...

I think the cold and meds have something to do with it. Sleep for the next fews days and when you feel like yourself again have a party with your read through. Take it somewhere inspiring (I like Starbucks). Order your favorite drink, or bring your fav snack. Sit back and enjoy the product of two months of hard work. I think with a clear head and plenty of rest that excitement will show up again. Hoping it does. - Nicole

Teenage Bride said...

Sometimes.... usually when I just have too many things on my mond to really appreciate my accomplishment.

I hope the cold gets better!

Jessica Carmen Bell said...

I hear you. I get excited when I finish the OUTLINE. Then the CHAPTER OUTINES, but then the story feels like it's been told already and the excitement of writing the full fledged story doesn't have any zing. It's no only you :o)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Congratulations on finishing the first draft!

Don't worry about feeling nothing -- and it's probably just the cold medicine anyway.

I never feel elation when completing a first draft or a revision. I feel depression, if anything. Like somebody just took away my favorite drug.

However, when you are off the cold medicines, you should definitely have a glass of wine or champagne to celebrate! Until you're off the cold meds, try dark chocolate. :D

Christine said...

Congratulations on finishing another first draft! Way to go. I bet once you feel better and you've had a chance to back away from the story, you'll feel a bit of a celebration.

And good luck with the revisions!

Christine Danek said...

I hope you get better soon. It could be a case of the sickies but I know what you mean about looking ahead to revisions. Be happy though--you completed another first draft to another awesome story. :)

Jeffrey Beesler said...

As a matter of fact this has happened with my most recent novel, a modest 50,000 word story where it felt like the characters did the exact same thing over again. I'm really going to have a field day revising that story, I think.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maybe you're just too tired to feel excited right now.

Melody said...

What? That's exactly how I felt when I finished my second draft...but maybe that was because I was already writing the third (and planned final draft) in my head...

Vicki Rocho said...

Sorry you're not feeling well. I think your theories are all feasible. Or maybe after the first few grand finales, the thrill of finishing is diminished? That'd be kind of sad, but it's possible.

Christine Fonseca said...

Yep, I vote cold! and Yes, the novelty maybe has worn off...bet yo celebrate 3xmore when your polishing is finished???!!!

Carolyn V. said...

Hey, I'm on the cold meds right now too. I'm feeling very relaxed and funky. Is funky still a word. I hope you get over your cold soon. <3

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Well done on finishing a 70,000 word first draft! Feeling poorly doesn't help you get in the mood to move forward and revise with gusto...I hope you start feeling better soon. I got my "fall" allergies about two months early this year. Drink some OJ, have some twizzlers and I'm sure you'll feel up to the task at hand...

Best wishes!

WhisperingWriter said...

I hope your cold goes away soon.

Congrats on finishing your draft. Sometimes I'm not always thrilled because like you mentioned, I know how much work will still be needed.

VICTORIA SAAVEDRA said...

I can't write my first draft with an outline. It kills the suspense and my creativity for some reason.

Perhaps take the break, clear your mind, and see how you feel about it then.

Hope you feel better!

Nicole MacDonald said...

I understand this feeling. At the beginning you feel like fanfares, fireworks and all manner of things should occur at the end and yet when it happens

zilch...

Nobody cares and now the hard slog begins.

On the brightside as you well know there is a definite thrill in discovering that you CAN write when you polish and make that gem shine :)

Good luck!

http://damselinadirtydress.blogspot.com

DL Hammons said...

Bless you (that's for the sneeze)

It's probably a combination of your cold medicines (because they really can mess with your perceptions) as well as your own maturing as a writer. The thrill associated with each subsequent completed book is bound to diminish slightly.

I wouldn't worry about it. Concentrate on getting better!! :)

Laura Pauling said...

I hear ya. I still feel that way even through the revisions and I wonder if it's me, the story, or possibly the query process of my last manuscript.

Hart Johnson said...

I felt far more 'bleh' this last time, too, and I think your note on 'knowing how much work is ahead' is part of it. I ALSO think there is a diminishing 'big deal' thing... my latest was my 7th (and only one has really been polished, and THAT still needs changes)

But I also wasn't thrilled with my ending this time, POSSIBLY because I wasn't ACTUALLY done. I wrote 5 more pages in the last chapter last night and have about 4 more to write... I ALSO know I have problems in the middle.

My first few books I wasn't quite as in tune the fact of what wouldn't work... finding a way to the end was enough. Now I want to find the most elegant way to the end.

Janet Johnson said...

I've got this "eh" feeling with my book . . . and it's on draft 12 or something. At least you've got plenty of drafts to get that excitement in, right?

Good luck!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Katie-- FYI...Jessica Bell just did a great post on you. :)

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Sharon beat me to it, Katie. But I truly enjoyed reading the insightful post Jessica Bell did on you.

More than likely your cold prevents you from feeling elation.

Or experience has taught you that you've just completed the first flight of stairs -- there's more climbing yet to do.

When you've finished the revision, the elation may come or just the sense of weight coming off your chest that it is finally finished.

May good health be just around the corner for you. I've got the sniffles and sore throat too. No fun.

Old Kitty said...

You take it easy and rest and recuperate! Being under the weather doesn't help with euphoria of any kind!!!

As an aside - YAY FOR YOU!!!! Well done!!! You will love this draft and the next one and the next - not instantly - but you will, you will!! I can't explain it further - you love and hate and love and hate and love again in equal measures - but most definitely the illness hampers the process!

So take care please!
x

Solvang Sherrie said...

Nothing makes sense when you feel like crap. Don't sneeze in my direction! :)

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