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.
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?