call it finished

After weeks of dithering I finally added “Spring Fever” and “Deadfall” as chapters 21 and 23 to the manuscript of One-Match Fire. On some barely conscious level I now consider the story finished. I need to give it a read through from the start, with the knowledge and depth these two newest chapters (and one new character) give the story to see what ripples they have throughout the telling, what prep work I might need to give the earlier chapters, and what fixes may be called for. (I added the minor mention of a birthmark to an early chapter so that it is “in place” when the birthmark plays its part in chapter 21, for example. But that’s an easy fix. I will be on the watch for bigger, more structural changes in my comprehensive read through.)

The addition of these 8,000+ words swells the novel to nearly 72,000 words, which is fine. I wasn’t striving to add the stories as a way to reach some arbitrary word count so that I could define the work as a novel; my purpose was merely to complete the telling of the tale, and I feel that this is done now.

This is both momentous and anti-climactic. And it signals more hard work to be done now that I am ready to begin shopping it around once again. Seven* of the chapters have already been published separately (plus one story that occurs after the scope of the novel, and I’m sending around another post-novel chapter), so I feel as though the novel has some pedigree. I hope this helps with getting some traction among agents and publishers.

This also leaves me with the challenge of working on something new. I have several unfinished, stand-alone stories I can return to, including one called “Stargazing” that’s been taunting me. It’s a fun story, not meant to be serious or literary, but that doesn’t make it any easier to write, or rather, to finish. I got it nearly to the end. And, of course, there is that Finnegans novel I had started some months back which is about two-thirds finished. I’ve figured out some fundamental changes I need to make to the story already written, including changing one character from a man to a woman, but I’m not sure I want to leap into a novel-length project just yet. More dithering, I guess.


*I had a technical writing instructor in college who insisted that you could never start a sentence with a numeral. I always considered it one of those arbitrary usage rules much like a split infinitive or ending a sentence with a preposition. Ever hear of this?

Explore posts in the same categories: Fathers and Sons

One Comment on “call it finished”

  1. I think something is lost in so many writing articles and blogs that make the process this magical-sounding thing. Like you finish a big work and fireworks go off and your town holds a parade in your honor. Instead, it’s like this: you add to a story, call it done (again), and keep trudging on. So congratulations on reaching another big milestone in all this.

    And yes, I’ve heard one should never start a sentence with a numeral. Or a conjunction. But the same instructors often told me it was also part of my job as a writer to capture how life actually sounds.

    So there’s that…

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