When I was a kid I used to be fascinated by novels, and I spent an unusual amount of free time trying to be a child novelist.
At one point I was working on a novel about a giant, Godzilla-esque radioactive dinosaur who stomped all over Boston instead of Tokyo. Once I began writing about the inner workings of the fictitious National Kickball League. And I actually still have a copy of the opening chapters of a tongue-in-cheek undercover spy novel I wrote as a grade-school creative writing project, which I also went through the trouble of illustrating (and whose main character looked suspiciously like Snoopy as World War I flying ace.)
I emphasize the word "start," because I would always get about 20 pages in before something else would command my attention -- birthday parties, homework, the latest comic book -- and I would toss the novel aside.
I'm burying the lead here. I bring this up because yesterday afternoon I typed the words "THE END," thus finishing the first draft of the novel that will be my MFA thesis. It was a surreal feeling. As I mentioned on Facebook, the feeling was "exhilarating and scary and nerve-wracking and at peace all at once."
And of course it's just a first draft. As of now, the novel is flawed. It has holes and problems that I need to fix, and that will be one of my major life projects over the next year and possibly longer, until I feel as though it's agent-ready. And who knows, given the long odds against publication, it may never be agent-ready.
But I've always said that anyone who is able to write "THE END" on a manuscript deserves commendation, regardless of the quality. I've read a lot of novels over the course of my life that I thought kinda sucked. But the authors were still one up on me -- at least they finished it.
I may never get this puppy published. But at least when I'm on my deathbed I'll be able to say I wrote a novel.