I finished the first draft of my new novel today.
I am excited and relieved and surprisingly at peace. The wholeness of the story is settling inside of me now--I feel full to bursting with it and wonderfully emptied of it all at the same time.
There is still much work ahead of me, of course--this is a very rough first draft--but I didn't know how the story was going to end, didn't know where the random scenes I had written were going to fit (if they were going to fit at all). It was great fun to see the puzzle pieces come together as I wrote, to let the questions answer themselves as the story unfolded. When I realized I was nearing the ending today, I started to cry. I cried through the last few paragraphs, cried when I wrote the final sentence. I always tend to cry when I finish a novel, but this was the first time the tears began before the last word. Tears and delicious shivers. I hope that final page isn't utter nonsense--I could barely see the screen as I wrote!
I have been flooded with ideas for new writing projects over the last few weeks--I can't wait to see which one will muscle its way to the top of the heap. It's been a while since I've felt so open to inspiration. I thought for sure it had to do with the fact that I could see the end of this draft in sight, but I was able to hang out with my friend Peggy Hong recently, and she said that she's been feeling full of inspiration lately, too. She thinks it's because the Bush presidency is almost over. Under Bush, poetry felt insignificant to Peggy; she felt there was more urgent work to be done. She thinks our country is still suffering from PTSD from the trauma of the Bush years, which makes total sense to me--everyone I know has been traumatized by the reign of this administration. "I think an Obama presidency will be great for poets," she smiled as we sat on the beach and watched dolphins play in the water. I certainly hope she's right!