I’ve Finished My First Novel

It’s been a bit over a year since I started The Ninth Life, but November 29 marks the day where I finished the project.

I’m uh, not really sure what else I should say. I don’t really feel anything major or special. There aren’t any weights off my chest. I suppose I’m a little sad that I won’t have something to work on every day, so my routine is going out the window until I find a new project to throw time into.

Until then, I’ll have more free time.

I’m not sure I should have gone with four drafts, even though I made some important changes on this last one. Those changes needed to be made, yet rereading this again was stressful, moreso than any other draft. I’m not sure why. There were chapters that I’d read and go, “this is awful and I should give up and kill myself” only to read them a day later and go “why am I such a drama queen? This is fine.”

Never have I doubted myself more. Perhaps that’s because I was so near the end, but it wasn’t particularly fun.

The next novel I’m ending at three drafts. Important changes be damned, four is too many. I’ll just be more thorough on that third round of edits.

Plus, three is a prime number. Prime numbers are fun.

The Ninth Life measures 428 pages and 134,509 words, which is a lot. I think that’s a good many. When I started the project, I had intended to write a shorty story that maybe hit ten pages. As it turns out, I found some interesting characters with much longer stories. I still didn’t think I’d crack 400 pages though. That seems unreal.

At the end of my first draft (the real first draft and not the first draft I called a first draft), The Ninth Life measured 473 pages and 151,027 words. I took out a lot. I cut away 16,518 words. Up until now, I’ve never written anything that long, and I sure didn’t expect to take so much out! In some respects, I could probably remove more. Little bits here and there, but I don’t want to. I’ve cut enough, at least in my eyes.

Plus as a writer, I figure I’m allowed to be wordy. You know. Words! Words words words. So many of them.

Step two is to get this published. I feel like step two is going to be harder than step one while also hitting me in the depression/soul crushing zone. I’ve never been published. Actually, I’ve never really tried. I’m still sitting on some short stories and poems that I guess I don’t have the balls to send to publications.

Rejection hurts. Or the idea of it does. I imagine the act is way worse.

I have some plans though! Kinda. The internet is a small place at heart, and I ran into someone who interned at a agency house…thing. She can put a good word in for me, since she’s read the first chapter or so. There are worse ways to start, though I’m not optimistic at all.

When are writers ever optimistic though?

For those that care or are curious or some mix of the two, The Ninth Life is my loveletter to fantasy. It’s everything I love about the genre. I’ve taken inspiration from Brian Jacques, Stephen King, Niel Gaiman, and R.A. Salvatore. Little things here and there. All the characters are talking animals because…I don’t know. That just happened. There’s a high fantasy ala The Dark Tower, though I suppose that’s more in line with The Lord of the Rings (but I read King first, even if he was inspired by Tolkien). There are little short story chapters throughout–eight in fact–inspired by American Gods, and hot damn but do I like that writing gimmick. It’s so fun. And there’s plenty of stupid, flashy action ala anything published by Wizards of the Coast.

I’ve gone light on the magic though, so I guess there’s maybe a nod to A Song of Ice and Fire, but that one is a little unintentional, even if I was reading those books when I first started draft one.

Kitgazka is my main character, a male calico cat cursed with nine lives. It seems like all male calico cats are. Every time he dies, he winds up in hell, a forest of stone filled with monsters made out of fire and sludge. He has to fight his way through them towards a door, but every death sees the door close a little more. He’s on his last life, and the door will finally close for good.

Desperation has driven him into an endless cycle of searching. All he can do is focus on the door and look for a key, a way to open it, a way to escape. He’s been all over the world, but he’s had little luck. Finally, on his last life, he’s going back south, back to the deserts that haunt his memories and further still, towards a place no one has ever gone before.

Along the way he fights zombie lizards because that sounded really fun at the time and wound up being really fun, even if zombies are done to death. It’s hard to screw up zombies though.

And when I reach out to agents, I will summarize this book way better than I did here. But I’m tired and in need of a walk or a drink or a nap. Not sure yet.

 

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