I finished the first (shitty*) draft of my novel. It’s rough, needs a lot more work and words to make it readable for even my beta readers, and who knows where it will end up. So when I finished it, I didn’t feel like I had reached a milestone. I felt that to say I had finished my novel draft was to lie to myself; I felt I needed to qualify (as I am doing now) that my first draft is done BUT… The work doesn’t end.
I am good at seeing the work that needs to be done. Less good at ease and celebration of accomplishing a milestone. I grind. I don’t rest. And I want to change this about myself because it is a stingy way to live, and it makes my life feel small.
Anne Lamott (via Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings) says, “If you give freely, there will always be more.” I want to give freely not just to others, but also to myself. To do so, I must celebrate milestones and markers in my life journey. Because, when you think about it, we will never be truly done until we’ve died, and it’s really hard to drink expensive champagne when you are dead.
So here is to celebrating writing a first draft of my novel. And here is to the ongoing work to make it a story that others will want to read. I’ll be continuing that work—just as soon as I’m done drinking my expensive champagne.
*See Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird for discussion of shitty first drafts, perfectionism, and the writing process.