The following was first posted on http://whitewagonfarm.wordpress.com on 12/7/10:
I flipped the cover of my Red n’ Black spiral notebook closed. It was 2:14 a.m. I had just written the final words of my novel.
Stunned, I looked around the empty room. Whom could I tell? The dogs were asleep in their crates. Pat was out of town. My friends in Asia would be awake, but I doubted if any of them would care.
Maybe I’d wait until it was typed before I said anything. Then I’d know word count. Then I could casually drop it into conversation: “You know, I just finished my 47,000-word piece….”
The next day I spent hours keying and, yes, editing my handwritten and often indecipherable text into Word. I really wanted to know the final word count – 46,607 – almost as much as I wanted to finish the process. “Back when I wrote my first novel…” has a nice ring to it.
By the following day I wandered around not knowing what to do. I had promised not to edit my manuscript for at least a month, preferably two. Maybe I could print a clean copy. But all my printers had run out of ink printing the draft copies I had been producing daily for the past couple of months.
I dithered. I dilly-dallied. I practiced piddling. I picked up several of the books I’d set aside to read after I finished writing. Every line I read reminded me of the utterly pedestrian prose I’d just written. All 46,607 words of it.
(What an odd scorecard anyway. Does a painter count brushstrokes? Did Monet ever say, “Look at that top right corner. It took me 364 strokes to get that color and texture.”? Did Mozart count notes? OK, OK. I do tend to run away with myself when I’m searching.)
After fiddling with my mp3 player I did laundry. I ate frozen pears. I surfed the Overstock.com pages for something I couldn’t live without. I ordered the Waterman pen I promised myself as a reward for finishing the novel.
Then I picked up my Black n’ Red notebook and my Pilot V-Ball pen. I’m already up to 352 words.