Last week I did it. I finished revising my third novel (well, fourth if you count the one I’d written before my first novel WHAT I MEANT… was published by Random House last year).
Finishing a novel is a feeling like none other. First I’m all wrapped up in the drama of the ending, feeling bittersweet and teary, yet hopeful, just like the heroine. Then, it’s a flash of pure joy. I did it, and it’s saved multiple times in multiple locations, and therefore it will continue to exist even after I move on. I’ve created SOMETHING, and that something is a huge part of me, even though it is its own entity too (kind of like a child).
The novel (which is a young adult, like my others) is called DRAWN, about Michelle De Freccio, a teen artist from Jersey who is running from her family’s freaky past. Her dad is transferred to teach at an academy in England, and this is a new beginning for Michelle. A clean slate. How many second chances do we get in life to become what we really want to be? In Michelle’s case, she wants to be normal. But when Michelle starts channelling a ghost through her drawings, a young man who she then meets and feels inexplicably drawn to, normal soon flies from her grasp as she’s pulled into a world of conflict, mortal danger, and boundless love.
Writing DRAWN was an all-consuming experience. I fell in love, I fought for my life, I ran from madness…I became my character, all while trying to pursue my own version of a normal life with its routine of driving the kids around, and cooking dinner, and sometimes even vacuming. The moment I finished writing, I ran out to celebrate by picking up some sushi and dumplings for lunch and popping in a Bridget Jones DVD. I was free, and carefree, and blissful…for about two hours.
Then I missed my book, and my characters. It’s kind of how you feel when you read a book you absolutely love, and you so want to get to the end to find out what’s happened, but then you feel really depressed that it’s done.
Now it’s on to the next phase: critiques. This is where my amazing writer’s group gets its hands on it, and I have to wait an excruciating month to hear what they think. And this is when my two teen daughters devour it, after waiting for too many months for a read, and they report back on their thoughts. Then I’ll process their opinions, and send the shiny revised version off to my wonderful agent, hoping she’ll be as in love with it as I am.
Okay, quite frankly, this phase is a tough one. In many ways, much tougher than writing the book. What if people don’t like it? What if I’ve somehow failed to convey the thrills and drama and heart-stopping love? This is where we lonely writers have to find some way to believe in ourselves and in our vision, even when others might not. I hate doubting, but I love input. And I want my book to sizzle. I want my readers to flip the pages eagerly, and to feel as touched when they read the last word as I did writing it. I want them to set the novel down when they are finished, VERY sorry that it is done. So, as Dr. Suess would say, I’m in The Waiting Place.
I’m more of a doer, frankly. I’ve even got a twinkling of an idea for another novel ahead of me. But in the meantime, in The Waiting Place, I’m getting to all the things I told myself I’d look forward to doing once the book was complete and sent to my first readers. I’m washing my car, and sorting through papers, and shifting away the summer clothes, and washing windows, and wishing wishing wishing I was still writing DRAWN. I’m in writing withdrawal.
I wonder if all writers feel like this. It’s been a few days. I want to create some more. And I really want to linger in that world I’d just created. Maybe I’ll read DRAWN through one more time, just for old times sake.