Yesterday afternoon after a marathon session--and it was a marathon session with no interruptions permitted and the imbibing of lots of cups of rich, fragrant Puerto Rican coffee, no switching over to the internet at the flick of a button (the peril of having high speed) to check pinging emails or surf fav' sites--I finished the first draft of what is still called America and Me:The first two years.
(I've decided the title stays until I come up with something I feel is the publication title, which will in all probability be in the US first as it's set mostly here. I know. I know what you're thinking. Publishers acquiring the work change working titles all the time. However, I lucked out with A Son Called Gabriel because my US publisher loved it and didn't consider anything else. My second novel, Unusual Steps, will also get to keep its title, but more about what's been happening when I have something concrete to relay.)
It really is so satisfying to enter that final period (full-stop elsewhere) on a manuscript and gaze at the screen and say 'I've finished the first draft.'. It came in at 87,872 words; 31 Chapters and 313 pages. It's also split into three sections--the first and tiniest dealing with London followed by New York and Pennsylvania in a more or less equal split. I'm pleased with it, but know from my experience of working on 'Gabriel' that scenes will be added and deleted. The difference is that I have lots of material to work with.
I am now turning the project over to my subconscious--which'll work behind the scene as I focus my attention on other things--editing, chopping, analyzing and rewriting so that when I take it out again I'll be able to start writing immediately. It took me a while to trust that this is a necessary part of the creative process. I look forward to it, though I'm sometimes accused of being too distracted or 'far away', not enjoying living in the present because my mind is indeed working out issues, toying with alternative words and improving descriptions,etc. and can tune out. One thing I do know is that, during the rewrite, I will give the chapters titles rather than plain old numbers, something I've never before done.
It's been a tremendously positive experience writing about how I came to America and my first two years here. I highly recommend writing about your past to everyone. Life moves so rapidly today, I think we forget to take stock and see where we've been and how people coming into our lives and experience has affected us. I'd forgotten so many of the downright whacky and funny things that have happened to me here and the struggle to assimilate and it's shown me how American I've become.