the conclusion of a journey

On Thursday night, I (finally) finished proofreading my novel. In hindsight, I reckon it didn’t actually take that long after I forced myself to sit down and work on it. I didn’t really rewrite much of it, but there were a few (small) paragraphs that I deleted completely and, as reluctant as I was about deleting stuff (so many words that I’d probably agonised over for so long), it also felt quite good to rid my story of all this flotsam and jetsam. In the end, however, I’m pretty sure I added more than I deleted… 

On Friday morning, I went to Officeworks to have it printed and bound. After spending an entire year writing this, and almost four months proofreading (minus about a month because I’m pretty sure I did very minimal work on it during March, and also minus a few weeks at the start of the year because I needed a break), it just feels really surreal that it’s finally done. (Well, at least done to the extent that I can show others, but not necessarily completely done because I’m now waiting on feedback, and might have to fix a lot of things.)

Standing at the self-service station in the store, I actually started feeling a bit emotional as I watched the industrial printer produce page after page of my story (118 A4 pages, including the cover page; duplex, of course). I reckon that’s when it really hit me. I actually wonder if that’s sort of what it feels like to watch the birth of a baby (except that I’ve been anticipating its arrival through a 15-16 month gestation, and the delivery was a lot quicker and less painful than actual childbirth).

Holding the actual pages in my hands felt really bizarre too. Although I’d scrolled through the whole thing many, many times on the computer, to finally have it physically and tangibly in my hands somehow made it more real but also very unreal at the same time. I was so overcome with emotion, I could have cried (but I didn’t because, you know, public places, too much pride, etc, etc).

And I’m not even convinced that the story’s even that good. Well, I mean, I must have some confidence in it, since I managed to see it through to the end; but I still have a number of reservations about this story, and I hope that I’ll write stories better than this one in the years to come. But I do feel like it was a good start – it was a good way for me to get a feel for the writing process.

(In case you’re wondering, the process was probably as torturous as it was exhilarating. There was so much frustration with sentences or paragraphs not flowing quite right, or with not being able to find the exact words that I needed. But it was rewarding – so rewarding – and I’d go through it again and again, as long as I had something to write about, and a means of writing.)

Writing a novel has basically been a dream of mine since I started reading novels. I have a number of childhood memories of writing stories, never really comprehending the amount of effort required to produce a full novel, and hence leaving many storylines unresolved.

But now I’ve done it. I’ve composed a story of over 57,000 words. Part of me kind of wonders why I didn’t push myself to attempt it earlier. Maybe I didn’t have the right ideas, or the motivation; maybe I didn’t have the mental stamina and the self-discipline required. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time – I wasn’t in the right mindset.

As of now, I’ve emailed copies to two friends, and delivered a hardcopy to another friend. There are a few more people I’m supposed to give copies to, but I’m waiting just a little bit because the more I distribute it, the more nervous I get.

To finish this post, I’d like to share with you this picture from Hyperbole and a Half (a blog that I really like, and still revisit from time to time even though there’s no new content). This picture is from the post “Depression Part Two” (one of my favourite posts on the site), and actually more or less sums up how I felt toward the end of the proofreading process:


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