Monday, September 22, 2008

What I Mean When I Say I'm Done

I have totally confused just about everyone in my life.

In August I announced to my blogging buddies, "I'm done!" To my family, "I'm done!" On skype, "DONE!!!!!" On facebook, "I've finished my book!"

Then in September, I started writing on the same book again. And everyone except my writing group went, "huh?"

So let me explain. In August I finished my first draft. Unlike other books I've worked on, when I finished it, it was pretty complete. It needed some shoring up near the end and fleshing out one of the characters better, but overall, it was in complete shape. And when I put the final word on the page, it felt done. Not clean and neat, but done.

In September I started "rewrites." On my first book (which I'll now call my "trial book") rewriting was actually rewriting. Massive amounts of rewriting went on. About 100 new pages were added, story lines changed around a bit, new plot lines developed. And the more I read about how to write a publishable book, the more the book changed, until I no longer had a hold on it anymore and put it away for good.

This book, SOME KIND OF NORMAL, needed much less work. Mostly tightening, fixing errors in voice, correcting typos and strengthening plotlines that seemed a little weak or unfinished. Despite the fact that the book grew about 11,000 words this month, it is still essentially the same book as it was in August. Only better. (I hope!)

So today I wrote the final scene that needed to be stuck in the middle of the last section. I merged my three documents into one. I ran spellcheck and grammar check one last time. I added chapter numbers. And I printed it out.

And now I can say, hopefully for the last time on this book, I'm DONE!

I'm ready to send it out.

I thought it would feel more significant than this. It's strange that the first "done" evoked more elation than this one. Perhaps it's the dread of the coming rejections, or the panic of it not being good enough. Perhaps it's because, now that I've come to the end, the control is to some extent out of my hands, and that is scary. or because the query process is just as much work as the writing. In any case, it feels rather anticlimactic. And what writer likes things to be anticlimactic?

When I got close enough to finishing that "trial book" I reserved three bottles of champagne: one for the day I finished; one for the day I sent my first query out; and one for the day I received my first rejection. I couldn't even see past then (and what was the point of buying a bottle for getting an agent, when that was completely out of my hands?). In a strange twist of timing, all three of those events came on the same day. And by the time I came home I had such a raging migraine from the emotional roller coaster that I didn't drink a drop.

This time, I have no champagne. (Well, there is one, maybe two bottles left actually, but they aren't so designated anymore!). I think I'll reserve any real celebrating until I get some positive feedback. The first time: I just set out to write a book. Finishing was worth celebrating. This time, I set out to write a book I could get published. And, for now, that remains to be seen.


  1. Well from what i can see, it's a GOOD BOOK.

    Maybe it feels anticlimactic because you have a better idea now of what happens next. Um, more work. Doncha hate that? But kinda love it too.

    It's all steps. There are so many tiny steps worth celebrating... we'll know when it's time to bust out the bubbly.

  2. "more work" LOL!!! Yeah... maybe that's it. I have a better idea of what is coming IF I get past this point.

    The agent thing though... it suddenly seems looming and large and very scary.

  3. I'll second HTH. I've read the whole thing (before rewrites of course) and I can say it is a Good Book. I'm anxious to read the renewed version.

    LOL oto the more work...but it will be fun work. And I really don't know if you'll need to worry about much after you get your agent. Smart you did all the editing before.

    QUERY AHEAD!! :)

  4. Best wishes on querying! Each stage is exciting, and huge, in its own way, isn't it?