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97,547 words, the last two being the traditional (and triumphant) THE END I feel obliged to put three double-spaced lines down, centered,  from the last sentence of the last paragraph. I’ve read that it’s better to have those two words, that it’s better not to, that it doesn’t matter, that you look like a rookie (which I’m not ashamed to admit I am), that you look like a professional – amazing how many opinions there could be about two little three-letter words. All I’m really sure of is a) without them my word count is actually 97,545, and b) I feel a hell of a lot better for writing them.

Even if they’re not exactly true.

Song can sit for a few days, or a week, depending on how this meeting with the surgeon goes today; I guess if they want me in asap for gallbladder removal, it might be sitting for a bit longer than I planned. If there’s anything I’ve learned in writing one trunk novel and one now-represented novel (yay!) and an undisclosed amount of short stories, it’s that first drafts need to marinate before you move on to the polishing phase. A few days/weeks stewing in my subconscious while I remember how to sleep can do wonders. Then I guess I’ll save a copy, change the font to something I never use, and start reading it over and fixing the embarrassing grammatical screw-ups, character-name-switches, time warps, plot holes, and anachronisms that invariably leap screaming out at me.

Then I guess I’ll print it out and read it again, making notes all over the margins and rewriting whole passages in a notebook which I can puzzle over later while I wonder how my handwriting got so bad.

Then I might send it out to a few betas, who will hopefully rip it to shreds so I can put it back together in some prettier form.

Then, and only then, I might send it along to my agent to find out what all the rest of us missed, and if it needs enough work I guess I’ll start back at step 3 or so.

So THE END is pretty much a lie: I’ve got several more months of work before this is anything like submittable. And I keep feeling like I’m missing some indefinable thing in the last pages or so that I’m sure will show up in the first or second pass. But overall, I won’t lie; it feels pretty damn awesome to have it (sort of) done.