In the Final Hours

I had written twenty, maybe thirty, pages of my first draft when I had the idea of setting the climax at a theme party. I thought it would be fun to put my characters into costumes and get them in one big room together with all their fears, suspicions and desires. Then add a deejay, a well-stocked bar and a dance floor, and see what happens.

Back then, I had a goal of finishing the draft by the end of Grub Street’s Novel Generator class in June. Then it slipped to Halloween. Then it slipped to New Year’s Day. Yikes.

It was only recently when I realized that writing the first draft has been a bit like putting on a party. The role of author/host can be nerve-wracking. I constantly wonder if I can pull it off and fret over whether everyone (or anyone) will enjoy it. And I am sure I have forgotten something.

Like many parties, the first draft hasn’t gone as planned. I have characters who looked good at first glance across the room, but ended up being a bore, or talked too much about themselves, or acted like they didn’t want to be there in the first place. On the other hand, there were a couple of characters I had pegged as wall-flowers who blossomed.

And then there were the unanticipated party crashers. Where did they come from? Some of the new arrivals made me uncomfortable. I had to ask them to leave. But a few of the crashers were surprising and lovely, and once met, I felt like I had known them forever. I introduced them around and made sure their glasses were always full.

No party is perfect. Inevitably, the conversation will stall or become stilted. Something will break, just hope its not too valuable. And I have never been to a memorable party where things didn’t get at least a little messy or out of hand, especially in the final hours near the end. I am holding my first draft to these standards as well.

Speaking of which, it’s not done yet, but it’s really close. The end of the year is one of those busy slow times that feels like it should provide ample windows to write, but ends up heaped with tiny commitments and unexpected get-togethers.

Like for instance, we invited some families over for a party on New Year’s Eve. Nothing too crazy, mind you. No deejay or costumes. Everyone has young kids, so no one will make it to midnight. And while it will be fun to host and see everyone, I was kinda counting on some of those hours for writing…

So I suspect I will spend New Year’s Eve shuttling back and forth between two parties, one at the house and one in the story. As the evening stretches on, I’m sure I will feel the urge to usher everyone at one party out so I can tend to the other, and vice versa. I hope that the guests of both enjoy themselves, and then promptly go home, so I can wake up in 2017 ready to pursue a new and even more daunting resolution called…revision.

Peace & Happy New Year


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