On Tuesday, I finished the first draft of my novel-in-progress, tentatively called National Champions. A couple of weeks ago as I was slogging toward the end of the book, I noticed that I'd started it on April 2, 2012. Stephen King advises never to take more than three months to bang out a draft. I don't know if I'll ever be that fast, but I decided a year was quite long enough, thank you. So on April 2, 2013, I triumphantly typed "THE END" at the end of the manuscript.
This is the point in the process when a lot of writers like to bemoan how bad their first draft is. I don't understand this--a builder doesn't frame out a house, then say, "Man, this place is a dump!" It's supposed to be rough when it's a first draft. Personally, enjoy the editing process way more than the drafting process anyway. I'm giving myself a break from this book -- at least a month, no more than three -- to work on some short stories and my next column. Then I shall look upon this world I have wrought, then -- and only then -- will I realize how terrible my first draft probably is. And that's okay.
If you're curious about the book itself, it's a superhero novel about a kid named Cody Hawthorn. He's your everyday clueless teenager, except that he can bench press 2,000 pounds and finds bullets a minor annoyance. He gets a recruited to attend Piedmont State University to pursue a degree in Civil Defense -- my fancy in-world title for a superhero-studies program.
Piedmont State isn't Hogwart's, nor is it Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. This is a public research institution where faculty expertise doesn't necessarily translate to good teaching; where other programs of study compete with (and feel resentment toward) the Civil Defense program's notoriety and funding; and no matter how talented you are, professors will always like next year's recruiting class better than you.
The second draft shouldn't take nearly as long as the first. I'm looking forward to taking a break, though, before tearing into the story again. I'll keep you posted when it's finished.