I did it. Today I finished Goodnight Sunshine — acknowledgements, bio, author interview and all. 334 pages. 4 sections. 61 chapters. 1 prologue. 90,916 words. 398,135 characters. A team of 16 people: 1 author, 2 editors, 10 beta readers, 1 painter, 1 photographer and 1 graphic designer. More than 3 years, at least 6 complete drafts, and too many coffee shops to count. After all that, it all came down to 1 word: nonsensical.
Yes, that one absurd, preposterous, illogical word — nonsensical — jumped out at me from the second sentence of the first paragraph of the first chapter, prompting one last creative debate that spanned hours of thought and discussion. It was fine before I tampered with the first paragraph the night before last. No, it wasn’t fine; that’s why I tampered with it in the first place. It had never been fine — tolerable, perhaps, but certainly not worthy of first paragraph status. So I tampered, and now I was left with … nonsensical.
I read it aloud, to myself and to Sheila. Now it was fine; it hadn’t been fine before, but now it was fine. She nodded approval, and I smiled at myself. Nonsensical. It was perfect. Nonsensically, absurdly, preposterously, illogically perfect.
Then I went to bed, and I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t perfect. It would never be perfect. But it could be better. It had to be better. No, it’s just one damn word, I thought. Just one damn word in one damn sentence in one damn paragraph. But it’s the first damn paragraph of my first damn book — so it has to be better!
So I got up, turned on the computer and started typing. Word after word, I analyzed definitions … searched for synonyms … grasped for ideas as I stared at the screen. Then, suddenly, the words flowed again. A few taps on the keyboard, and I was done. A complete manuscript — All 4 sections, 61 chapters, 334 pages, 90,916 words and 398,135 characters of it. And now, it’s fine. Really, truly fine.
So there you have it. I just posted the first two chapters of Goodnight Sunshine — the complete first two chapters of my complete first book — and I am done, barring any typos or glaring oversights that arise when we proofread the printed copy that will be mailed to me in a week or two.
Soon, Goodnight Sunshine will be available for anyone to buy, and all of the vulnerability I have been sheltering will finally be exposed. My first book … my baby … on public display. It won’t be perfect — it could never meet my own expectations — but I’m pretty damn proud of this accomplishment. It’s nonsensical, really. No, wait, there must be a better word.
* Roald Dahl quote provided under Creative Commons license by QuotesEverlasting.com
6 thoughts on “A Nonsensical Feat!”
What a feat! Congratulations! I can’t wait to read the final version – but I suspect it’s closer to the original beta version that I did read than some of the in between side trips you obviously took along the way :). How do I get an autographed first edition?
Thanks! How you get an autographed first edition will likely be the subject of my next blog post: The Trials and Tribulations of Distributing a Novel! 🙂 But fear not, your copy will be available soon. And I believe it is much improved from the beta version you read.
Congrats Mark, on finishing your novel. I can’t wait to read it.
Thanks Ruth! Can’t wait to get it printed so you can read it.
I feel really proud and excited for you
Thanks so much! It’s great to hear from you.