Clarion Write-a-Thon Post Mortem

Rage Over Babylon by Ziv QualThe Clarion Write-a-Thon ended a week ago, and I meant to post a post mortem (heh) during that time, but my brain was frankly pooped after the six-week endurance run to finish the Tower novel. That meant hardly doing anything productive last week because, well, I just wasn’t physically or mentally capable of doing so. But now I’ve had a bit of a rest, so here you go.

For Week 6, I wanted to continue the trend of writing every other day rather than every day, but I knew that I’d need a fourth day in there to finish with the word count that I needed to put me at or over my overall goal of 30K. I wrote on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then Friday; the Thursday numbers were low (to be expected, plus I didn’t want to stress myself too much), but I brought everything home during a marathon run on Friday while writing at studioKALEIDO (many thanks to Amanda and Winnie for giving me the space) and got to type THE END.

And then I took a long and freakishly satisfying shit. I mention this not as prurient scatology, but as a comment on the physical reaction that came with finally completing a work of 120,000 words, a work that had taken me six and a half years to finish. My body was able to literally unclench with the relief of wrapping up such a momentous event. I knew that I’d need to fix some things in revision, and I wasn’t satisfied with the ending I’d written, but it was there, out of my head and on the page.

On Saturday, to my surprise, I opened the very last chapter once again, and within 20 minutes or so, tweaked it enough so that what I’d earlier thought unsatisfying became a supremely meaningful and resonant ending, so much better than what I’d initially written the day before. But to tell the truth, I couldn’t have revised those resonant words without what I’d typed in my exhaustion the day before. Which is why the most important piece of writing advice I have ever learned is to FINISH WHAT YOU START.

So my final Write-a-Thon total is 30,834 words in six weeks. I accomplished my dual goals for the ‘thon and for finishing the book. I now have a completed novel that, in the coming months, I will go over at least twice more before sending out to agents. I’m damn proud of what I’ve done with it, and I’ll be even prouder once all the little niggling loose ends have been tied up.

But even better, all of the money that was donated or pledged in my name will now go to The Clarion Foundation, which comes to a total of $1,213.00. I’ll be sending out an email soon to all of the generous people who sponsored me, and will be getting their prizes ready.

This was an incredible experience and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I was working full-time right now, so I’m astonished at my fellow participants who also wrote toward their goals while holding down a day job. It’s been a long journey to get here, but the biggest thing I’ve taken away is that I can actually finish a novel. I’ve started many, but A Fickle and Restless Weapon (the book’s actual title) is the first one I’ve fully committed to finishing. It makes the prospect of writing my next novel a less daunting task, which is an important thing if I’m to have a lasting career.

Thank you to everyone for cheering me on. The book is finished, and I’m still basking in the glow of that accomplishment.

Okay, here are the entries from Week 6 at Team Hitchhiker:

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