So, it’s been a little while since I’ve blogged. There’s actually a really good reason for that.

Back at the end of October when I started my latest attempt to finish my novel, I set a deadline for the first draft and a word limit: 80,000 words by February 1st. I figured that gave me just a little over three months to finish. Since I have a job that is emotionally exhausting and often requires quite a lot of overtime, I thought this was a pretty reasonable goal. Usually, I set overly-optimistic goals and then scold myself for not exceeding them. For me, guilt is not a effective motivator. Better to allow for slow progress and avoid feelings of guilt altogether.

I did really well until Election Day…then I had to take a week off from the story to process my startlingly strong emotions. I limped through the rest of November, gamely determined not to quit this time. December was great, writing-wise. I also realized that my draft was not going to be 80,000 words; indeed, I’d be lucky to reach 70,000. So, feeling just a tiny bit cocky, I revised my deadline to January 1st and decreased my target word count. And on December 26th at 10:00pm, I realized that I could either close my iPad and go to sleep, or keep going and finish my first draft THAT NIGHT.

It took several cups of coffee to get me through the next day, but it was totally worth it. For the first time, I had a finished first draft of a novel…and before my deadline! Best feeling ever.


I’ve been trying to write this novel since 2012, with a variety of ill-success. At first, I was dealing the aftermath of the tornado. Then I switched jobs and then I took other writing responsiblities. One thing lead to the other and I just never finished. Each time I would go back to fix it up, I got frustrated with the fragmented state the story was in. Also, my writing style had matured so much since the days when I was first writing it…everytime I went to add new stuff, it looked like two different people had worked on it. That was extremely frustrating as I would have to rewrite the whole dang thing all over again, hopefully from start to finish this time! Then, in early October 2016, I had this great idea for a story. I mean, I just really loved it…but the problem was, it required scraps of another story to be woven into it. I didn’t want to start not one but TWO new stories when I couldn’t even finish the one I had. I hate to sound obtuse, but it literally took my mother saying “Um, Hannah, you already have scraps of another story, why don’t you just use that?” for me to see it.

On the one hand, I hate that I couldn’t finish my first story in a novel-length, cohesive style. It kind of feels like I failed that story in some way. It was the story that marked my coming-of-age, the story that helped me work through so many questions, doubts and “What do I actually believe?” moments. It’s also (in my not-as-humble-as-it-should-be opinion) a good story. On the other, I really like what I have right now…a cohesive narrative that is novel-length and, oh yes, FINISHED. I still need to edit it, and then edit it some more…but still, this is pretty awesome! It honors the original story and the person I was when I wrote it, while rising above the flaws that always kept me from finishing.

I’m trying to decide between traditional publishing and self publishing (leaning towards traditional, to be honest). Any thoughts or suggestions?

One thought on “Deadlines

  1. Do your research with publishers. You should be looking for: credibility (how long in business, are the titles they have published familiar or obscure, etc), does the publisher want $ to read your manuscript. if the answer to that question is yes, keep looking. The big publishing houses will not look at your work unless you are represented by a literary agent. Look for a smaller publisher that fits your genre. Consider submitting your work to contests. Some colleges and foundations will hold open calls for manuscripts and the rewards can be monetary or publishing. At the very least you will get a response with suggestions regarding your work. Self Publishing: is great to get your work out there however be careful. Scams are plentiful (For a mere $999 we can get you published!). If your dream is to be carried by a big publisher one day, think twice about self publishing. Very, very, very few self published books get picked up by the big houses. My husband self published 7 books. We put in years promoting his works and have had modest results. The amount of energy needed to continuously promote your book is incredible. But then, fulfilling dreams isn’t meant to be easy.


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