Today I wrote the last line of a novel that I conceived of years ago, a dystopia about a world where everyone lives in his or her own private room, never leaving for all adulthood. But an underclass develops who must do the manual labor, and bands of rebels and criminals live on the outside.
In one sense, this is a huge milestone, something I have been working towards for years.
In another sense, it is but a beginning. Over the years, my skills have sharpened, ideas have gained clarity and characters have deepened. The early chapters are hardly composed of grammatical sentences, and they poorly set the scene, if they succeed at all. Major plot points need revisiting, probably outright changing. Some characters will need to be incorporated earlier and receive substantially more development.
And yet, though the work is long ahead, that is exactly how first drafts work. Get the ideas out, meet the characters, generate the basic story arc. To hold oneself back and demand perfection from the get-go, would mean never setting a single word down. And so severe imperfection is a necessary step in the process of completion.
That last sentence came as quietly as the middle sentences, through a few minutes here and there, on an almost-daily basis. It was not especially momentous to get that final phrase down, just I never feel “older” on my birthday each year. Yet year by year, I am in fact growing older. And sentence by sentence, the story grows and grows.
The most productive habits are the ones that become so seamlessly incorporated into daily life that we no longer notice them–they are second nature, as Aristotle said.
So, today, I must remember to mark this, regardless of how long the journey is ahead.
What big projects have you hit milestones on? Did it come quietly or with a bang?