Back in college--oh, so many eons ago it seems--I wrote my first book. It was an enormous feat, one that pushed me to every limit imaginable. The book was 1,000 pages long and written on an old Brother word processor. Now, a grand worth of pages is a ton of paper (I printed and put it in three 3-ring binders) and as it took roughly 4 minutes a page . . . you get the idea on how long it took.
Writing the first draft of this first novel was not only an enormous feat, it will be one that will live with me forever. And not just because I finished something that not very many people could do. It was because at that time I met who would eventually become my wife, Melissa.
Sure, I could go on to tell you that we fell in love at first sight (okay, it was for me - not quite sure about her though, as this geeky-looking guy was talking to her as she was working the security desk at the college campus security) and we started dating right then and there. Sorry to disappoint you but I was a major chicken shit. We didn't start "going out" until about nine months later.
So, my friends, how did I celebrate the completion of my first novel?
The year was 1994 and Interview with the Vampire had just been released in the movie theater. Up to this point, I had already seen it twice. But let me back up. This first novel was just a hair over 1,000 pages. On the night I hit the 1,000-page mark, I went out to the bar. My friend Kregg, who bore the nickname Towers on account of his massive height and build (he played football for the BSU Beavers), was bartending. After a few drinks, I looked around the bar. It was damn-near empty. Hell, this was a Friday night. Where was everyone? What I didn't know was that Fridays (at around 9PM) were usually pretty dead. Many go home for the weekends, and besides the crowd seemed to come in around 11PM or so.
Anyway, I said farewell to my friend and went back to my dorm, where I wrote a few more pages before retiring. I woke up the next morning, finished the book, and asked myself, "Okay, how am I going to celebrate now?"
That afternoon, I watched Interview with the Vampire for the third time. By myself. Pitiful, to say the least, but my other friends went home that weekend and the chicken shit that I was couldn't ask out my future wife.
(Oh, by the way, I watched that movie a total of four times - not sure if I've ever done that since.)
How do you celebrate a first draft? Or whatever bigger goal you set before yourself?
Stephen King once said that when he finished writing one of his books (sorry, I can't remember which one), he went out to McDonald's and had a St. Patrick's Day shake.
Whatever you decide, mark the time with a little celebration. You don't need a huge round of fireworks or a weekend-long drunk fest. Just do something special for yourself. You deserve it. Then, get right back to work . . . because we still have a lot to accomplish.