Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Finishing A Book . . .

. . . writing one that is.

Sunday night I put the finishing touches on the first version of THE FRIDAY SOCIETY and sent it off to my editor at Dial.


And it occurred to me, we all have our different responses to that moment. That metaphorical typing of "The End" at the finish of a manuscript.

Some writers feel a sense of loss, a kind of postpartum depression, which I can relate to as that's how I feel after a show I'm in comes down. Some feel the need the jump into the next thing, whether it's an anxious feeling of "what now??" or an elated feeling of "ooh, and now . . .!".

Well, for me . . . I feel . . . awesome.

I often compare my writing process to another activity I undertake frequently: exercise. I know I need to do it. But in the moment before, I want to do anything but. I finally convince myself to do it, and as I'm doing it I usually feel a lot of pain. Once in a while though, I feel great, really strong, really sure of what I'm doing. Most of the time . . .pain, hard work, struggle, a sense of "I'm never going to make it." Then, when it's over, I feel so proud of what I've done. I feel physically fantastic and mentally I feel a great sense that what I did was exactly the best thing I could have done for me. Also I feel exhausted.

So when I finish writing a book, the first thing I feel is a massive weight off my shoulders. I feel light, I feel elated. Okay, let's be honest, I feel a little giddy. I also tend to sleep really well that night. I relish the time I now have to do other things in my life. I finally picked up a book for the first time in ages (my relationship with fiction changes drastically in the final moments of writing a book and I can't read a word of it . . .for many complicated and ridiculous reasons). Sometimes I panic - "Adrienne! You can't just sit here! You have a novel to write!" And then with a fabulous relaxation I remember, "Actually, no, no I don't."

My life is filled with projects, so the lack of writing a novel doesn't leave an empty spot for me. Instead I feel incredibly proud of myself. And stunned too.

Many of you who follow this blog know the story of how I became a writer, and how it wasn't exactly the expected path for my life. So the fact that I have now completed 5 novels, blows my mind. So yes. I feel proud.

And of course a little scared, as I am nervous what my editor is going to say (just because I finished writing a book, doesn't mean the book is any good - and when you're so closely tied to something, it gets really hard to be objective about it after a while), and I anticipate the hard work when the edits come back . . .

But right now, I just feel awesome.

Now that I've shared :) I was hoping others of you would too. We are all individuals and how we write and how we feel differs widely. So, how do you feel when you complete a writing task (doesn't have to be finishing a book)? I'd like to know.


Cat Connor said...

I think awesome pretty much covers it. That delightful moment when the ms is sent off to my editor and the sense of accomplishment mixes with a wave of relief, is awesome!

I look forward to the edits more than the original writing. There's less pressure (to write!) and it's more fun.

J M McDermott said...

I always feel like I'm living inside a Massive Attack album. I play video games in a haze, go for long walks, and get confused at the grocery store because normal, everyday things seem odd and strange and grotesque.

It takes a few days, but I come around.

I wouldn't call it depression. More like recovering from hacking my own head.

L.E. Falcone said...

I feel lost but not in a bad way. It feels like I'm supposed to be doing *something* but I can't remember what and then I realize, oh yeah, never mind. Once I shake that feeling, I just veg out for a while.

Anonymous said...

Count me in as GIDDY! I recently sent my latest ms off to critters and spent a significant portion of the next day jumping on the trampoline with my kiddies. It was a great way to celebrate, plus helped ease some of my guilt over the neglect that can happen during those final days of revisions. (Cereal and popcorn for dinner, anyone?) Felt so good to be free PLUS like I was Super-Mama.
Now if I can just resist the shiny new ideas for a while...

Maureen McGowan said...

I like your exercise analogy. It's like that for me, too.

And when I'm done I usually feel great. Sense of accomplishment. Strong, but tired. Powerful.

Then fear sets in, especially if I don't hear immediately from agent/editor/crit partners, whomever I sent it to. I read all sorts of crazy things into every minute/hour/day/week before I get feedback.

Drawn by a Star said...

Congratulations... really well done... love the photo on your blog too... this is the first time I've come across your blog.. looking forward to following you !!
Good luck,
Meg Robinson

Gary said...

A sense of relief. Light. Fulfilled. Two chapters to go in the latest book. We'll see if the pattern holds true.

Naima Haviland said...

Alex, I'm glad I found you through JA Konrath's blog. I have a lot of the same feelings about writing a novel. I don't like writing -- I like having written! It feels great when I finish my work for the day and I know it's good and a big smile spreads across my face. I go to bed with a sense of accomplisment and sleep well. Good luck on your newest. I just bought a kindle so if you're publishing for that format I'll definitely download :)

Naima Haviland

Jenknightbooks said...

I just finished the first draft of a book, and I felt AMAZING as well! It was a total high...which I came down from eventually, but still. It's writing that last perfect sentence and closing the journey for my characters--one that I am extremely close to, and feel like I have gone on too--that powers me through that awful middle part where you don't know WHAT the heck you're doing, lol.

Btw, I can't wait to read Corsets & Clockwork!!