Last night, I finished the first draft of 'Heaven Can Wait'. To the best of my recollection, that means I got from the initial idea to a complete first draft in 4 weeks flat. This novel grabbed me by the throat and hasn't let me go all through that time. It drained the fun out of everything else I did. When I got hung up on writer's block trying to write chapter 8 for a week, it ruined my mood.
Over the weekend, Friday-Monday, I wrote almost 30,000 words. I didn't sleep Saturday night. I punished my teeth and my stomach with vast quantities of acidic pop and candy. I've neglected my PhD to the point where I now have to write a paper almost from scratch in the 6 hours that remain of today. I completely failed to support a close friend who had an exam yesterday, and probably spurned or shunned most of my other friends in some way or other. I've spent most of the time with my arms in various support bandages due to joint pains.
In short, it's been heavenly (pardon the pun).
The essence of being a writer, I think, consists not in doing lots of writing or doing very good writing, but in being unable to stop writing. A writer is someone who writes, whether or not they're making any money from it, whatever circumstances they find themselves in. My whole experience with 'Heaven Can Wait' has been affirmation that I am a writer.
Let me expand; when I wrote my first novel, for NaNoWriMo last year, it grabbed me and I worked like an obsessive maniac on it for a week, but that was because I got into competition with another member of the group who wrote slightly faster than me, and I'm unstoppable when my blood gets up (I eventually won by a matter of about an hour and a half). When I wrote 'The Death of John Collins', it was more like I had to grab hold of the novel than it grabbing hold of me - it was a hard, hard book to write.
This is the first time I've felt that I couldn't not write a book, at least since I got back into writing. If 'Bad Romance' showed me I wanted to be a writer, and 'The Death of John Collins' showed me I could be a writer even if the project I was writing had deep problems and was hard going, it took 'Heaven Can Wait' to assure me I'm going to be a writer, whether or not I ever make money from it.
It helps that writing 'Heaven Can Wait' has been immense fun, apart from the aforementioned stint of writer's block - the chapter turned out to need a fundamental rethink - and I've been surrounded on Twitter by people egging me on. I'm immensely grateful for that support and encouragement.
I do owe an apology to everyone and everything I've neglected because I've been under the influence of Novel. All I can say in my defence is that there were times when the need to write was almost mental-illness intense. This thing took me over. For what it's done for me already, I'm grateful, but I am sorry if I've been a bit of a monster for the last month. Now I'm into editing, things should be a bit better. Maybe.
I'll be looking for beta readers soon, by the way. I've already had a few people declare interest, but let me know if you'd like to get on board - the more the merrier!