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Er, at least, the first draft anyway. It has been a long and winding road getting to this place, and there were a lot of moments along the way that I didn't think I would make it, but I did, and it feels wonderful.
A brief history to illustrate why I'm so happy. You see, about twelve years ago or so, I belonged to an online club that wrote original stories that took place in the Wing Commander universe (for the uninitiated, Wing Commander was a series of computer games that took place several hundred years in the future). At the time I'd never really written science ficition before. All of my writing time had been devoted to horror, with the odd poem (not horror) throw in the mix. The first bit of sci-fi I wrote were story concepts for new Wing Commander games that I sent off to Origin Systems, the developers of the games (and no, I never heard back from them). My interest in Wing Commander led me to discover a group of young writers who wrote in that universe, and I was thrilled to join them. For the next several years I wrote a series of short stories for them, and those were great years. I had a ready made audience who were always willing to give honest feedback, there were loads of people I could bounce ideas off of at any time of the day, and they made for good guinea pigs that I could test out my ideas on, such as new pieces of technology that I wasn't sure worked. But, as time went on, I got an idea for my own sci-fi novel, one in a universe entirely of my own making, and I piddled around with it while writing stories for them. The initial idea never really got past the "that's an interesting notion" stage.
Enter my wife. Early on when we were dating I told her my idea for the novel, and she encouraged me at every turn to write it. And I meant to. I always meant to. Years went by, and I kept on meaning to. I even broke away from the writing club so that I could devote more of my time to not writing it. Every once in awhile a new idea would come to me, a new wrinkle in the story, and I'd mention it to her. While she was enthusiastic way back when, the intervening years had taken the bloom off that particular rose, and finally about a year ago she turned to me and said (I'll never forget this), "Justin, this is it. You either write the damn book, or you shut up about it." That might seem harsh, but it was exactly what I needed to hear, and what she needed to say. She had been with me for seven years, seven years where I droned on and on about it, and the whole time I was just feeding myself a line of crap. I never intended to write it. Saying you're going to write a novel is so much easier than actually doing it, and if you never start it you never fail. Her words broke me out of the spell I'd cast over myself, showed me for the fake I was, and pushed me to get off my duff and write it.
And now I'm done. 101,869 words later, I'm done. It wasn't always easy, and near the end when I had to trash the entire last chapter and rewrite it I thought I might not get there, but I did, and that's what counts. I love the story I ended up with, too. It isn't quite what I'd envisioned all those years ago, but I think it's better in every way.
Anyway, that's it. I done with the initial draft, and I'm going to let it rest for a few weeks before I dive back in and do my first big edit.
I will keep you posted.