I’ve wanted to write a novel for a long time. I vaguely remember listing off my ideal occupations, as a child, and throwing “famous writer” in there, along with being the first female president, a scientist, and a veterinarian. Ambition, I had it.

My first attempt at NaNoWriMo was in November of 2009, when I burned out at about 25,000 words. The novel was aimless; I hadn’t outlined a thing and didn’t know where I was going. I was proud of my word count, but that was it. NaNoWriMo is a great idea for some people, but without spending the right amount of time planning and then fixing problems early on, I didn’t make progress on anything usable.

I put much more thought into planning this time around. In October of last year, I started outlining a novel. I’ve been working on it slowly ever since then, with a few breaks thrown in. It took a lot longer than I planned to get the first draft done – building a writing habit is hard work itself. Getting up early. Putting words on the page that you know will probably be cut at some point. Writing is hard! It took a long time to start making actual progress on a real story.

But on Saturday, I wrote my final scene, compiled the document, and sent it off to the printer. And after only three tries, FedEx Office finally got the print job right, and yesterday I went home with my manuscript. I picked up some colored pens, highlighters, and sticky notes on the way, and am already having a great time marking it up.

Since I wrote the novel from start to finish, the oldest writing is at the front, and so far, editing has been a challenge. It’s not great writing, but I’m optimistic about the editing process. I’m excited about finishing the draft, and have shared the news – but I’m getting a lot of questions about when people can read it, when they can buy it (!), when it’ll be ready. Yikes! It’ll be a while still.

I’m going to take one or two passes at it myself in the next few months, and then will probably try to recruit some beta readers early next year. I’m really looking forward to putting this out there, one way or another, sometime soon.