The first draft of one, at least.
I'm still surprised, but I do think I've gotten over announcing it to my husband at random intervals. I think he is pleased by this.
So here's some things I kind of maybe learned.
1. When someone whose (who's? whosssssssss?) book you have read and loved says "My first draft is garbage", they are NOT just being humble, or saying things to encourage you. They are actually telling the truth. They know that you cannot edit a blank page, so if you don't get it written, you can't get it right.
2. I, personally, cannot plot ahead of time. All efforts to do this will make me knit copious quantities of dishcloths, which I then have to hand out to strangers like they're candy. (the dishcloths, not the strangers. How could strangers be like candy? (oh please don't answer that) )
3. It is a bad idea to take an entire week out of your life to go away and write until you know your own writing process. I am grateful that a good writing friend of mine cautioned me to start with an overnight. Overnight was just about right, the first few times.
4. Figure out your own process. I spent at least two years insisting on peace and quiet in order to write - I accidentally discovered that that doesn't work for me thusly:
I was at a friend's, just for an overnight, and she and her husband had gone out in order to give me time to write. I set my laptop up at her kitchen table and ...nothing. Finally after half an hour of futzing about, I let her two great big golden labs into her small kitchen, and it got a bit chaotic.
And I wrote four pages.
5. And that goes for plotting, too. If you can outline your entire book chapter by chapter before you even type the first sentence, more power to you. (Also - I hate you. But not personally. Only professionally.) (My plot, beforehand, was pretty much a single sentence: So his dad dies and he has to Step Up.) If you know that George has some thing to do that you have yet to write, and after that, the book is gaping hole of black, by all means, write George. My book revealed itself to me slowly and the day, four years and change into writing it, that I knew the ending was a big big day indeed. It was the day I started to believe that the term "Perpetual Novel" was a misnomer. Next time, and that is why I am writing this down, I want to remember that the people I am writing about will let me know when they're done. (I did know there needed to be a bleakest moment, and I even kind of sort of knew what that looked like, but how they were going to get there? Not a clue. And then I wrote it and it wasn't actually that bleak so I had to further enbleaken it.)
6. The part after the first draft? for someone like me? ROCKS. I have been begging someone, anyone, for years, to tell how to do this RIGHT. Where are the rules? I would moan. Tell me your process, and I will make it mine. Give me somewhere to look this up!
This did not work. Even if I could trick someone into revealing their process, I couldn't make myself be them.
But guess what??!?!?
Now I get to follow RULES. People who have written WAY MORE BOOKS than I have are going to look at it and say "I want to know more of what he's feeling here" and I will just ...obey.
To a point.
Anyway it's more fun than "just write it."
I'm going to go outline it now. Hee. I'm going to go look up the plot :) :)