I don’t know which is worse, finishing a book as the writer, or submitting the book into a contest. I’ve been a nervous wreck the past week staying up late every night, sometimes until 4 AM, and carving 1 to 2 hours free time in a busy day. As a full-time dog sitter that is very hard to do. It’s not as if I can turn to my canine client and say “hey Buster let’s skip our walk today in favor of writing.” But thankfully, sometimes dogs sleep late like humans, so I wasn’t the walking dead.
As I wrote the novel over the past five years I did spell check every so often but because I’m a very good speller and I don’t often do typos I had no problem with that. But since this novel was going into a contest I had to use spellcheck, I didn’t have any choice if I wanted it to be absolutely perfect. Even though I had Microsoft Word 2010 installed on my computer there was a glitch and the person who fixed my computer put me back to Microsoft Word 2007. Which unfortunately meant that the Thesaurus was missing from my tools at the top of my page. Holy Hannah! When you use one Microsoft version for a really long time you get spoiled and when you have to do without you can’t remember how to make up for the glitch. So I worked without a thesaurus but at 3 AM my brain was fried and I couldn’t think of alternative words for what I really needed. Penitent was one such word. I agonized over that. For 15 minutes, how was it spelled? Finally, I chose another word. I couldn’t believe I couldn’t remember how to spell it and I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t sure if it was the word I wanted in the first place! Anyway so I had to do spellcheck but then I found out being that Microsoft word was only 2007, the spellcheck would quit every 200 pages. Its brain too was fried.
Then there was the music. I absolutely cannot write without music. For the past three nights I chose Pandora radio using tracks that I particularly like. Marvin Gaye, John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Black Sabbath, and Lisa Garrett. If I hadn’t been writing so early in the morning and was married, I would’ve had that music pounding The walls down, but because I am not the only one who lives here I put the sound down. And yet it was soothing enough for me to rewrite well without losing the thread of the many plots, despite the fact that I was dead tired.
In addition over the past five years I have tried to write the novel in sections. For instance section 1 would be chapters 1 to 100, section 2 would be pages 101 to 200 and so on. But because if I numbered the pages and they started over again in section 2 at page 1 and then I did a find/replace, in which version one or two? it got so confusing that my eyes crossed and I fell over in a dead faint.
Seeing that that didn’t work, I kept the novel as all one document, but luckily for me since it took five years to finish, by then I had it memorized! Really. Yes indeed. I could tell you what page began with what word and what character did what in which chapter so that when I did a rewrite the next day and for some reason it hadn’t saved, which happened so many times I can’t tell you, I knew exactly where to put it. If and when and a big big big big big maybe I ever win with this book and it gets published, and a line or a word or a paragraph is dropped or changed, i will know exactly where, and wonder why.
Who would’ve known ending a novel was such a big process and entering a contest was even harder an emotional turmoil as this? The book ended up being about 400 pages and the reason why I am saying “being about” is because it came with Rule of having a 1 inch margin upper and lower, left and right, doublespaced, with headers and footers, and page numbers. Well actually the page number was a footer but the header was the title and genre. Nowhere on this document was to be my name or address. That went into the email that accompanied the title page, the number of words in the document, and my name, Address, type font, phone number, title and genre.
It took me two days to hit submit. I spell checked it twice and scanned important parts twice. I had gone from present tense to past tense so that had to be checked, and I had gone from 10 narrators to one. It’s not that I’m a nervous Nellie about writing or entering contests, but I really really really really want this novel to be published and since I don’t have any money to do self publishing, my only hope is to win a contest where the prize is publication.
Now comes the wait. The contest entries will be judged in the next month and I believe the announcement of the winner will be in June. I’ve been told that you enter and forget and move on. So last night I went back on to my writing newsletters, and found other contests to enter. I would really like to find a flash fiction contest because in rereading my book I found a really great flash fiction story. But we’ll see. I think I need a one or two week break from doing anything so heady as writing, and since my dogs were just neutered and need to be resting, playing with them will help me unwind from this seemingly monumental task.