I finished my book a couple months ago, the one I wrote after my thesis that I mentioned in my last post.
I FINISHED IT.
As in, I completed the first draft, revised it, let others read and critique it, revised again, hired an editor, revised yet again before I had more people read through it, after which – you guessed it – I revised again.
Phew, that was a lot to describe in one breath.
It was a long process. It was grueling at times, easy at others, the latter of which was very rare. It was difficult, but it was definitely rewarding.
Because I finished my book.
The one I’ve been working on for a year and a half – it’s done.
I have a finished product that I can put out into the world (yikes!).
It feels surreal saying this, having gone through it all, just trying to take it one step at a time. It feels strange after so much time to say that it’s done, to have nowhere else to go with it now, as far as writing it goes.
Of course, there’s publishing it, but that’s a post for another day.
The editing process itself was one I’d never fully experienced, not in a professional manner as I did in January. It was fun and slightly terrifying.
I hadn’t had anyone outside grad school workshops and friends read my stuff, so when I sent an editor my manuscript, feelings of overwhelming dread suffocated me like they did when I was about to start my first workshop.
I was nervous to have a professional editor, one who’s read countless other manuscripts. I was afraid of the things she might say, including how many plot holes she could find and how flat the characters were.
When I received the feedback, I held my breath as I scrolled through the comments. Sure, some were plot issues. Some were character inconsistencies. Some were for areas that could use tightening.
But the comments didn’t bother me like I thought they would.
I didn’t cry or send an email back in irrational defense.
I merely took a deep breath as I dove in to make the suggested edits. Of course, it was difficult. It was time and energy consuming. It was draining. It was hard to determine what suggestions I wanted to take to improve the story and which ones would take away the story’s essence.
And when I was done, this sense of relief washed over me. I’d survived the first round of edits. I felt better about my story and manuscript. I felt optimistic for the first time about my book.
I think this is why the feedback didn’t crush my spirits like I thought it might. First of all, the comments overall were really good and encouraging. But I also knew, going into editing, that my manuscript needed work. Even though I’d gotten some feedback along the way (through five drafts), I knew it still needed something.
And editing helped me fill in some of those gaps, beyond the surface repair. I got in and fixed the meat of it.
It was exhilarating.
I couldn’t wait to let more and more people read it. I sent out the finished product to a few more friends, and I even queried agents. And when I sent the queries this time, I felt positive that I did all I could do. I did my best. I went through the necessary Hell of several rounds of revisions in order to create a polished manuscript.
I didn’t rush it like last time.
I took my time to do it right.
I was still rejected several times, but I could at least find peace in the fact that I gave it my all. Sure, sometimes it stings knowing that my best was still not enough for some agents, but that doesn’t mean it’s over.
I still have my book.
I still have the power to publish it independently, which is probably what I’ll do. Because I put together a special story… and I survived.
I reached “The End” when there were many days I didn’t think I’d ever get that far.
I reached the finish line – a finish line, anyway.
Because the beauty of writing a book, you see, is that it’s not over once you’ve added “The End.” No, my friends, it’s not over at all. When you type the final words, you’re just getting started. There are so many hoops to jump through from there – agents, self-publishing platforms, marketing strategies, etc.
When I reached the finish line… it wasn’t really the finish line. It feels far from over for this book and my long-term goals.
But according to many, writing the thing can often be the hardest part. And I’ve done that. I’ve finished, and now I’m ready to take on the dangers AND rewards of publishing.
In the meantime, I’ve already started on the next story in the series (I’m over two-thirds of the way done!).
This experience is not unique to writing. It applies to so many other areas of life. Once you feel like you’ve put in the work and completed the tasks, you should be done, right? No. There’s more. There’s always more. And I don’t mean we can’t be satisfied and celebrate our achievements along the way.
Quite the opposite, actually. Celebrate that college diploma you earned, the raise that’s well deserved, the twenty pounds you lost – but then get back at it. You have to now find a job, continue performing well and reaching new highs at your current job, and maintain your health.
There’s never really a finish line. There are points in your path you must reach… in order to get to the next one. But don’t forget to stop and celebrate along the way. It’s important to pat yourself on the back, drink the wine, or simply pause to look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Be happy about the accomplishments you make, but don’t stop setting goals for yourself and your future.
I stopped once I finished edits to congratulate myself. To go to dinner downtown with my husband and enjoy the moment. But it’s time to get back to work and tackle this whole publishing thing.
I could stop at “The End” on my book. I could keep it to myself and not publish it at all. But where’s the fun in that? 😉 I wrote the book to share it. To share my words with readers. To follow my dream.
It’s far from over, for sure.
Let’s keep at it, y’all.
P.S. Stay tuned for some fun excerpts from this book I keep mentioning! More details to come in the next few weeks. ❤