Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Finishing a Novel: So That's What It Feels Like...

"I hate writing, I love having written." ~ Dorothy Parker

Now don't get me wrong, I've completed writing projects before. Even when I was seven years old I knew how to move a story to a conclusion even if it was just a three-pager about a horse and some magical flowers and, well, I don't really remember how that one goes but you get my point. Then there were short stories, essays, articles, and the horrible monstrosity known as a senior thesis in college. But my ambition (as you may notice from all the decorations here) has always been to complete a NOVEL. And it was a goal that somehow remained elusive for almost thirty years. Before you get too judgy and start trying to calculate my age just know that my first novel attempt was a middle grade mystery series because I loved Trixie Belden so much. And yes I know that judgy isn't really a word but I'm a writer and we try to push the boundaries on things like that. So, as I was saying, I've completed writing projects before but my goal was always to be a novelist and that seemed to be something out of reach.

But no longer.

Be it for good or for ill last night (ok, early this morning) I completed my first novel. Typed -TheEnd- at the end and everything for a feeling of completion. And it was... anti-climatic. Ironic in a way considering that it was a sexy romance book. Reaching the end, although satisfying in a box-checking sort of way, turned out to be a lot like writing anything else. There was no surge of "Hell yeah I'm the queen of the world! Let's go celebrate!" Which, granted, I've only felt once in my life but I was suspicious that this particular milestone might have provided the second round of that. It was more "Oh good, that's over. I thought they'd never shut up. I wonder how long the next book will take to write. Hopefully a week or two is enough time to let this one sit before I start doing edits..." and other mundane things that writers think about when contemplating everything about getting the writing done other than actually, er, getting the writing done. In some ways that's probably good because it means I can bump along contentedly in my writing projects and with this milestone out of the way it demonstrates that there is absolutely nothing stopping me from writing novels. In fact, based on last summer's statistics I can cough one up in a month or so with relatively low impact on my current schedule. Once I have enough books out there even if only a handful of people like them I can certainly fund my cafe habit. So as the little peace-loving INFP that I am I should probably be ecstatic that, soup to nuts, writing a novel isn't an emotional roller-coaster for me.

But... it seems like there should be more.

Because isn't it a big deal? Shouldn't I be shouting from the rooftops, dancing in the streets, or at least listening to Kool & the Gang's "Celebration" on repeat? I don't know. The most amusing response has been from my sister, who received the news this afternoon. (She's not on Twitter. I don't know what's wrong with her.)

Me [text]: The good news for me is that I finally finished writing a novel last night. The bad news for you is that it's historical romance.
Her [text]: Congrats! As long as it's not about me I'm ok.

Later she called to congratulate me again and tried to get clear on exactly what it was I had written since the last she had heard everything on my plate was SFF (of which she approves).

Her: So it's historical...?
Me: Romance.
Her: What period?
Me: Regency.
Her: So it's a bodice ripper?
Me: Yep.
Her: Well... I guess I'll read one of those in my life, then.
Me: I have more bad news for you. It's the beginning of a series.
Her: [pause] Like I said, I guess I'll read one of those in my life, then.

So, what does finishing my first novel feel like? A lot like normal life. Except now instead of saying "I'm writing a book" I can say "I've written a book." And that's pretty sweet.

How about you? Have you finished a novel, or reached any other major milestone, and it didn't quite come off the way you expected? Tell me about it in the comments.


  1. Here, I'll shout FOR you: WOO-HOO!!! You rock. Because it is a huge flipping deal to finish writing a novel. You're probably just still numb. Once it sinks in, I'm sure the excitement will bubble up in you. :)

  2. Thanks Linda! With you cheering I'm of course remembering *\./* *\./* *\./8

    There is a certain lack of sleep operating right now and that might contribute to some numbness. Mostly I just want to move on to the next thing and get a lot more "having written" done.

  3. I finished my first novel, sent it off to beta readers. It was anticlimactic. I knew how much work remained ahead of me in revision, querying, publishing, etc. The finish line is pretty blurry, to be honest.

  4. Thanks Tony, that helps me feel less alone! :)