The First Draft

The first draft of the complete manuscript

What began as a purely utilitarian endeavor to compile all of the chapters into one document, assess the actual page count, and print a hard copy–if for nothing else, a backup–became a surprisingly meaningful milestone.

It took twenty-five minutes to run off. It is 502 pages. At seven pounds and a few ounces, it feels like two years’ worth of work. And when I hefted up the pile of paper for the first time, it transformed into something new: a manuscript.

The prologue, eighteen chapters, and epilogue came together in a real way. What existed before as an outline became a Table of Contents. The ten drafts of a single chapter, previously filed in its own folder, became “CHAPTER FOUR.” And there’s a Title page!

Stacked beside my keyboard, the physical presence of the manuscript excites me to begin the revision process with a heightened tenacity for continuity, progression, and succinctness. The white margins are wide open for redlines that now improve the story as a whole. The transitions must be smoothed. The through-line themes rutted. The word choice–as always–refined. All that wanders must be cut away. And the ‘darlings killed.’

Let the chiseling begin.