A few weeks ago, I made an announcement on Facebook: “I’m doing the dance of joy today because I finished my fifth Malone mystery, Marnie Malone.” Several readers and other authors left comments congratulating me, which I very much appreciated. But, a comment by author Evelyn Cullet got me thinking about what it feels like to finish a book. And I decided that depends on a lot of things.
Evelyn mentioned that she always feels “lost” when she’s finished writing one book and hasn’t yet started another. I completely understand what she meant because I’ve felt that way in the past and, to a lesser degree, I’m feeling that way now. After all, almost every day for many, many months, I’ve sat at my computer blocking out my “real” world and entering a world of my own creation. I’ve gotten to know and love my characters. After five books, they’ve become almost “real” to me. Like family. So I think it’s only natural that I would miss them when I finish a book.
However, my reply to Evelyn’s comment went something like this: “Actually, I feel as if a weight has been lifted. Like I can breathe again.” I wrote that because that’s exactly how I felt that day. Relief that I’d finally finished a book I started plotting well before the fourth Malone mystery, Mistaken Identity, was published in June of last year. Marnie Malone is a book I’ve been excited about and had been looking forward to writing for a long time. But several things got in the way.
I had written the first few chapters when my mother sold her house and, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on the book with everything going on, I lost three months of writing time moving my mother and myself from her house into our own apartments. Packing, unpacking, rearranging. You know the drill. Finally, I was able to get back to my book and I had a few good months of writing before Mom fell and broke her right wrist. For about two months, I had to do almost everything for her. I still managed to write but my writing time was very limited.
I want to mention that I’m not complaining. Really. I’m very grateful to have my mother and I’d do just about anything in the world for her. But, like all writers, life sometimes gets in the way of writing. It took me such a long time to finish plotting, writing and editing Marnie Malone, which is why I was filled with relief as I typed “The End.”
A few days ago, after a final read through and more editing, I finally sent the manuscript to my publisher and, once again, I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief. Although there's a long way to go before I actually hold Marnie Malone in my hands, I'm enjoying a brief break before I start on my next writing adventure.
If you're a writer, how do you feel when you finish a book?