I began Claire Young as part of an online writing class. I stayed current with assignments and wrote dutifully for months. But shortly after I began the class, my father was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dimentia, a rapidly advancing form of dementia. My writing took a backseat to all things involving Dad. Five months after I began my novel, he passed away on July 24, 2011. I don't remember how long it took to begin writing again.
One year later in 2012, I was diagnosed with cervical stenosis. This is a spinal condition in which the spinal cord becomes squeezed by one or more of the seven vertebrae in the neck. There are multiple causes, but mine was congenital. By the time 2013 drew to a close, I had nerve damage and spinal cord bruising. Both of my arms had gone numb and my right leg had periodic tingling. A neurosurgeon told me that paralysis was possibile if not inevitabile. Surgery was the only option.
On January 20, 2014, I underwent a five vertebrae posterior laminectomy (C2 - C6) and a single level fusion (C3 - C4) to relieve the pressure on my spinal cord. I awoke cured. I remained in a neck brace for 12 weeks stoned on muscle relaxants and Vicodin. I still see a physical therapist weekly to regain the range of motion in my neck as well as relieve the severe muscle stiffness that followed the surgery.
Today, June 15, 2014, I typed the final words of Claire Young. Given everything that happened during the writing of this novel, it's somehow appropriate that I finished it on Father's Day. What comes next is the second draft. I'd have never guessed it would take me over three years to write a 60,000 word novel, so I won't even attempt to guess how long it will take to write the second draft.
Regardless, I'm finally convinced there will actually someday be a completed, pitchable, final draft of Claire Young. Here's a screenshot from my Manuscript app.