I just finished the first draft of my new novel. I am kind of stunned. I never thought I'd get through this draft. I think I've struggled with writing this story more than any other--struggled with finding the time, the focus, struggled with connecting with the characters--but somehow it all came together. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but at least the story is complete. The revision process should be a lot of fun--I look forward to crafting this sketchy mass into something more alive.
My time at VCCA definitely helped me reconnect with my novel, but once I got home, I lost a lot of momentum. It's just been in the last week that the words really started to flow again, that I really started to feel engaged. I was up until 4 several nights this week, the novel full of steam.
One thing that helped, too: almost losing it all. A few days ago, I remembered that I hadn't backed up the manuscript for a while. I went to copy it into my USB drive, and suddenly the file disappeared, on both my hard drive, and the external disc. It simply disappeared. When I went back to Word and attempted to open it under recent files, I was told that the path was invalid. I thought it was gone forever. I had a physiological melt down--my heart was pounding a million miles an hour, and my hands and face fell asleep, and I could barely breathe. Hannah came into the room when I was on my knees on the floor, yelling and crying. Now that I was finally on a roll, finally almost done, the whole story had vanished! Hannah was very worried, but she kept a calm head and asked if I had checked "Search." I had not. And I did. And I found the file in some strange place--blessedly intact. The experience helped me appreciate the work I had done, even though much of it felt forced as I was writing.
I told Hannah she saved my life, and she told me that for that, I should dedicate the book to her. I think I will do just that.