This past weekend I put the exciting and satisfactory words, “THE END” on my third novel. (Third – hey, that’s actually pretty cool. I’ve written THREE books, y’all.) Actually, I didn’t really type those words, but there was definitely a metaphorical slap shut of a book and a “DONE” shouting through my head (at midnight, after everyone was in bed – no one to celebrate with!)
Turns out, the jittery feeling of finishing a draft of a story even after having done it twice before still happens. [Note The End. At Least Until the Real End and The End. (Again!)]From what I’ve seen by other authors, it doesn’t matter how many books you’ve written, reaching the end always brings a similar exhilaration.
Yesterday I felt the familiar sadness of missing being with my characters – especially when listening to a couple of songs from my playlist. I was glad for this sadness, though, because while I am excited to be finished with the initial draft, my emotions toward the whole thing have traversed the map in wild, unpredictable ways. At times I’ve been excited – others I’ve felt like I can’t possibly do this like I want. I’ve mentioned MANY times how much anxiety this story has caused me and feeling somewhat relieved to finish it instead of just excited indicates my anxiety hasn’t yet dissipated and at this rate, probably never will.
On the other hand, finishing it instilled a new confidence in me. It’s not that I didn’t think I would or could ever finish it (I’m thankfully far beyond that particular kind of fear now), because I knew I would. Instead, the completion gave me closure on the fear of HOW I was going to do it. This story has a lot of time jumps that go forward and backward and I simply wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull it all off.
Of course, a couple of my writing partners have it in their hands right now and there’s no telling what they are thinking about it – ha! However, that is a matter of whether or not I pulled it off well, because regardless, I DID finish and therefore I DID put it all together. That confidence is what I need as I enter the next stage, which I love. Revising and editing. Having it finished means I have the big picture and can FIX it – whatever “it” is throughout the story. I can’t fix what isn’t there.
Fun facts about this manuscript (or, just information that may or may not be interesting to some of you):
* This is the shortest initial draft I have written so far (by a lot!).
* I draft by writing random scenes in no particular order. However, I generally know their approximate placement in the timeline of the story. Not so, this time. This is where a lot of anxiety crept in – how will it all fit together? To quote Shakespeare in Love, “I don’t know; it’s a mystery.”
* Anxiety and fear meant dragging my feet. For the first time, I instituted a daily word count for myself, which failed often. About a month ago I set an end date and then chose an arbitrary total wordcount goal and took advantage of Scrivener’s Project Targets tool. Success! Interestingly, I did not actually achieve the benchmark wordcount goal, but this doesn’t matter since it was only meant to be a guideline. As I revise I’ll surpass it at first anyway – and then quite possibly drop down again.
* For the first time, I came up with a working title well before finishing. Titles are hard, so I was pretty excited about this, even if it doesn’t end up staying the same later.
* Accountability is both a stressor and a motivator. I have an agent who wants to represent and sell my stuff, which is a worthwhile reason to try to finish the book sooner rather than later. The stress is all self-induced, though. I’ve been under zero external pressure to finish by a certain time – that’s just a peek into me and my own expectations. J
Thanks for continuing to hang with me on this journey!
How about a song from the playlist? OneRepublic’s “I Lived”