I’ve done it. The initial draft of my first manuscript is complete. All done. My work-in-progress novel, The Mousetrap Killer, is now a thing. Break out the cake and ice cream. And a bed.
There have been a few failed attempts to transplant the inkling of a narrative from my mind to a somewhat structured story. Two false-start manuscripts to go along with dozens of X’ed-out pages in my thought journal remind me that this—writing—is a long-term endeavor. I hope to write full-time one day. If that never comes to fruition, however, I will continue to write because, more than anything, it is straight up fun (and hard, but who doesn’t love a good challenge?).
The Mousetrap Killer has been in my head for some time, and the past six months have been quite rewarding. Seeing the printed manuscript makes it feel that the time and effort investment has been worthwhile. Let’s see if I still feel that way after editing and all the red ink makes it look like a death scene straight out of the book.
The first tingle of an idea for a story about a serial killer who snares his victims with intricate traps started as an “It would be cool if…” exercise. From there it became an unstructured collection of journal notes. I had an itch to create something from it, so I scratched that itch and cascades of character traits, plot points, and methods of (pretend) killing (fictitious) people in outrageous manners emerged. That chaotic mosaic of thoughts ultimately morphed into a typed outline. The outline was tweaked, worked, and twerked until the story had some semblance of order. I worked on the piece whenever I could carve out some time—as a full-time father, husband, and software engineer, free time lies someplace between myth and dreams. Somehow, through perseverance, a supportive wife, and the magical properties of coffee, whiskey, snacks, and beer—though not all at once, usually—73,000-ish words fell out of my brain and into a digital document.
The Mousetrap Killer—once just a tickle of a thought in my (probably warped) imagination—has become a novel-length work with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I was ecstatic to hit Save for the final time after six months of work. It felt like I had earned membership into a remarkable society—so many set out to write a novel and never finish, or worse, never start. Completing the first draft was evidence that I could maybe actually become an author. I cut the victory tour short, however, upon the realization that I have now to edit this thing—a lot—before I can call it a success.
I am proud to have made it here. But, to analogize the process of having a book published to a football game, we just kicked a field goal in the first quarter—it’s progress, but there is still a lot of game left to play. I’m not a writer by trade, so I learn as I go. The hordes of sentences that have been victimized by gratuitous use of adjectives and adverbs require serious rewriting. The characters raise their eyebrows an awful lot because at the time I couldn’t think of anything else for them to do. Remember the beer and whiskey I mentioned? I conceived some ingenious (maybe?) death traps and twisty plot points on those nights—along with atrocious grammar, ambiguous wording, and puzzling dialog.
There will be celebration points along the path to publication—if I should be fortunate enough to have this or any work published. Cake and ice cream for finishing the first edit. Beers for the completion of the second. A trip to the moon (emotionally) if an agent chooses to represent me. A new dog if this thing gets published—as promised to my wife.