Deb Kerry has a Fear of Finishing

Finishing something can be a very good thing. Like – when you’re six and you’ve finished your spinach so now you get ice cream. Or, you’ve finished your homework and now you can watch TV. It can also be a bad thing, like when you’ve finished the last of the ice cream or the last piece of pie. Eaten the last chocolate in the box. Just finished reading a book that was awesome, except that the character you loved most in the whole world ever is dead and there is no happy ending, for anybody, now or in the future…

Oh, sorry. Pardon me. I just finished watching a sad movie and currently hold no hope of future happiness for any of us. Don’t worry, though, it will pass and I’ll be back to my optimistic self in the morning.

As for finishing the writing of a book – for me that produces an exceptionally complicated emotional state.

For starters, a book is never really done. I know this. So when I finish a draft, even as I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment, I’m already gearing up for the inevitable rewrite. And the next rewrite. And then revisions and edits. I don’t have a problem with this. Every pass over the manuscript makes it a little better. Also – as long as it’s undone, I don’t have to worry about critics or sales or what people will think. There is a safety in an unfinished work. So when I got the email from my editor telling me that BETWEEN was going to copy edits and we were done making all big changes, I had a huge slight meltdown.

What do you mean no more big changes? But it’s not ready, it’s not good enough, it isn’t FINISHED. I need more time!

BETWEEN launches itself out into the world in just a little over a month. I’m pretty sure I could still make it better. But the thing about publishing is that at some point the book is ripped out of your grasping author hands and you’re told kindly but firmly to go play with the next book.

Let go.

Move on.

Easier said than done. But you know what? The characters start talking in my head. Phrases come and go. Ideas start to twist around each other into plot lines, and before I know it I’m writing that next book.

I’ll never be finished writing, even though I will finish books. And that, in itself, is comforting.

How do you feel about finishing a project? Is there joy and celebration or do you suddenly find yourself in need of a therapist?

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8 thoughts on “Deb Kerry has a Fear of Finishing

  1. See, this is why I’m writing a series. I didn’t have to say goodbye to my characters at the end of IN A FIX. Of course, I’m sure I’ll be huge mess when it comes time to wind up the whole series…

    Happy Winter Holiday of Your Choice, Everyone! 🙂

  2. Learning to let go of a project was definitely a tough one for me. Like you, I feel there are parts of my book I could still make “better,” but I have to remind myself that if I kept “perfecting” the book forever, no one would get a chance to read it! But we’re not alone in continually wanting to improve our books. I remember reading some legend that Henry James used to go into bookshops and pencil in revisions to his published works!

    • Oh wow – that Henry James tale is awesome. Wouldn’t it be amazing to get your hands on one of the pencil corrected books? Also, I understand his obsession.

  3. I’m with Linda (and you, Kerry!) – I’m so glad I’m writing a series because “finishing” one book doesn’t mean saying goodbye to the characters or their world. Here’s hoping I get to write Hiro novels forever! (OK, that’s not realistic but I can dream!!)

    I’m also like you in that “finishing” a novel is extremely complicated, and I’ve avoided re-reading CLAWS for fear that I’d find a thousand things I want to change, even though I love the book. I’m so glad to hear I’m not alone in that!

    • Susan – I have to confess that I didn’t read through the galleys when they showed up. I should have combed them for that last and final typo that we could still fix, but I was petrified I’d find some horrible oversight that would disrupt my sleep for weeks.

  4. For me–I’m glad to be moving on to new characters with new situations and problems and adventures and relationships. When I think about writing more about one of the characters in The Glass Wives, I know I could do it, but it doesn’t call to me. I do know that if I was told to edit again, I could do it, but I’m glad I’m past that point now. It is what it will be when it goes out into the world. And I’m ready for whatever is next!!!

    But I do love the idea of my friends writing series, because once I enjoy a cast of characters, I’m happy to read about them again. I guess I just don’t want to write it!

    • I have no objection at all to new characters and new books. In fact, once I’m done with this trilogy, I look forward to it. But I will still suffer a great deal of angst over finishing the book. Like you, I do love reading a good series. It’s like hanging out with friends. Plus? I’m a lover of the happy(ish) ending, and if it’s a series, the probability that my favorite characters will survive is higher. Unless GRR Martin is involved. That man is tough on characters!

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