Two years ago, I was sitting in the bar of a hotel in Waikiki, just noodling away on the keyboard while I drank overpriced pineapple juice. What started as a “Hey, this could be a fun little idea for a story” turned into a full-blown, come-hell-or-high-water goal: I was going to turn this thing into a novel. I worked at it off and on for a while, getting in a hundred words here, a hundred there. I worked on other stories when my brain ran dry. I made grandiose goals and promises (“100K by Christmas! A fourth draft by Worldcon!”) that went by the wayside.

When I joined the Glorious Leisure Class in April, I promised myself I would spend every day at my desk in our home office until I wrote one thousand words of fiction. Some days I outdid myself, and others were a struggle. I had some interruptions for travel and family business (including a blazing hot week repainting my grandparents’ house. Tip for you homeowners: if someone tries to talk you into sandblasting the paint off the wood siding on the eastern-facing part of your house and not doing anything to protect that wood afterwards, politely laugh in his face and walk away. Your grandchildren will thank you later), but, more often than not, I sat and wrote.

Yesterday, I finished my first draft.

It’s ugly, and it’s a mess, and, no, you can’t read it. I don’t even want to read it, not until I’ve given my brain time to forget about the world of Santee Anchorage and its politics, weather and delicious rum-and-favor-based economy. I’m going to let this thing sit until Labor Day, the day of the Giro di San Francisco, when I will start my edits and revisions on the drive home (and if the Giro di SF is canceled, then I’ll just pound the hell out of myself on Latigo that morning, then edit). I’d hoped to have something to hand around to friends at Montreal, but it’s way to early for that. The novel I started at that bar is nothing like the one I wrapped up in a blazing hot hotel room in Arkansas, and it would probably be a good idea to make sure the thing swings from beginning to end.

How do I feel? Relieved, honestly. First drafts hurt, especially when they’re for something this big. My promise to myself on the bike course at Taupo to spend more time writing was certainly helped by spending a year focusing on that race. I know I can go the distance; now I just have to get there faster.

So. The first draft of Windswept, started July 27, 2007 at whatever that bar was where we had dinner for Yuki and Ken’s wedding that first night, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii; completed July 6, 2009, Gaston’s White River Resort, Lakeview, Arkansas. 84,037 words. Thanks to everyone who had encouraging words along the way. Now it’s time to get better.