The best part of writing a book is getting a solid running start.
Also: the part in the middle, after you realize you have enough material to tell a whole story.
Also also: the part at the end, when you realize that not only have you written the whole thing, but you can look at it and see a solid piece of work all ready for the next phase.
Actually, that last part is probably the best-best part.
In addition to writing, I paint, I draw, I play and compose music, and all different variations on all of that stuff. In my experience, there are very few creative endeavors that rival the sense of accomplishment that comes from writing a novel all the way through to the end, realizing you’ve told a full tale, no matter how long it turns out to be. And when you read it back and realize that there are pieces you forgot about – happy surprises that catch you off-guard when you see how much they enrich the storytelling, or bad surprises that tell you there might be a bit more editing required before other eyes are allowed to read it—you remember just how much time and energy and thought you’ve invested in your work. You can’t control whether or not your readers will love it at this point…or any other point, for that matter. But you can recognize that everything you’ve wanted to say is on the page. Or not. And in those cases you still have time to add/subtract/augment as you see fit.
And you get to read it to see how it plays as a complete work, to see if you’ve hit all the highs and lows you were going for. Because if you as the creator of the theme park ride in verbal form can’t find riding the rails you’ve constructed exhilarating to roll over, how can you ever expect your audience to find it that way?
This is a lot of writerly chitty-chat, isn’t it?
Probably not what you’ve tuned in for and certainly not the funny stuff you’re used to finding here.
So, in storytelling terms: let’s cut to the chase.
Joe Vampire: The New Paranormal, the third full-length novel, is fully written and edited now. Not surprisingly considering I finished writing the first draft a full year ago, I’ve found all kinds of surprises that I forgot I’d put in. Some of them swing the story high; some of them drop it pretty low. Some of them turn it in corkscrews that don’t take the characters into very comfortable positions.
What can I say?
I write rollercoasters.
It’ll be with the proofreader this week, and early readers by next weekend…which means it’ll be out of my hands and into the eyes and brains of others.
It may already be finished, but until that happens, it won’t truly exist.
It’ll just be something on my hard drive, waiting for someone else to crank the key and roll it down the track.
Even though the words are all in place, someone else having their eyes on it will be the final The End moment. If you’ve ever done it, you know that it’s sort of an emotional phenomenon: you’ve put together a fifty-thousand piece (or, in this case, ninety-seven-thousand piece) puzzle, and by Jove, it actually looks like the picture on the box!
It’s a huge thing.
You might think that, after an author has knocked a few out, the feeling diminishes. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve written quite a few now, and it always feels the same.
Wistful is the word that describes it best, I think.
Like the ride is over, and your coaster car has pulled into port. You laughed, you cried, you screamed…maybe you puked a little, or peed your pants. It was wild-scary-amazing fun while it happened, and you’re a little sad to see it end. But you can’t wait to tell your friends about it, because you know how much they’re going to enjoy the ride, too.
And you can’t wait to get back in line so you can do it all over again.