Finished it! I have written it and read it aloud and edited it and gone back over it three times and now farmed it out to great friends who have agreed to critique it.
I can't believe I've finally gotten a novel to a point where it can be farmed out for critique. It has been FOUR (count 'em) FOUR years since I got anything this near to completion. Huh, could the reason for that be it coincides with the time we started getting high speed internet and therefore television again after 15 years without it? Hmm. That will require greater investigation. It also coincides with the birth of my fifth child. And the time I started homeschooling. And the general breakdown of all order in the home for about a 2 1/2 year period. (Follow this link to read my award-winning essay on this baaaaaad time in mommydom.)
So, yeah. No real guilt there. But still. It's a long process. From idea stage to first draft, to second, third, fourth, fifth and final drafts, it has been a long road. The story has morphed over time. I tried to follow the outline of "how to write a commercial fiction book" found in James Scott Bell's great book often mentioned earlier on this blog, Plot and Structure.
This meant I had to go back and redo scene after scene to crank up the conflict. I had to go back and cut out characters whose roles changed. I had to redo whole subplots from time to time. It was a living work. Ever changing.
I know that once my dear and good friends who are SO KIND to read the manuscript and give feedback send it back to me, I'll need to go over it again and re-adjust quite a few things. That's okay. The whole experience has been an exercise, one to teach myself to write something that will fit the genre of commercial fiction. No, as one online friend says, it won't win any Pulitzer Prizes. Who cares? Not me. I don't have enough angst for that in my life. But if it creates a good, diverting few hours and informs them on a new topic, great. Mission accomplished.
I think I need to celebrate.
Candy is in order. What should it be? Well, so far it's been a hot fudge sundae from McDonalds, mini-Twix candy bars, mini-Snickers candy bars, mini-KitKat candy bars, (all the mini candy bars were left over from a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby prize pile), a Square Shooter hot cinnamon lollipop, a few fruit snacks, a handful of gummy bears. But these seem inadequate for the magnitude of the 18 month long effort, don't they? I should really go for the gold. I should head over to Walgreens and pick up a package of Toblerone or Toffifay or Boston Baked Beans. Yeah. Those would scream "celebration!" Or ... Peanut Butter M&Ms. Yeah, that would be fantastic. Or good old Mr. Goodbar. Even a Big Cherry--my tastes include the exotic and even the shunned-by-others-of-narrower-candy-palates. Now, a Big Cherry? That's more than your everyday, run of the mill, candy I had at home anyway. It would be a celebration. I'm taking suggestions!