It will be my fifth published book (or eighth including the German editions of my Firefly Lake series) and together with the numerous other unpublished books I wrote whilst learning the craft of writing, finishing a manuscript isn’t unusual—and indeed, the book isn’t truly ‘finished’ because I’ll have several rounds of edits from both my agent and editor before it reaches readers.
Yet, from when I was a newbie fiction writer (ten years ago and counting) until now, the feeling of completion when I finally reach ‘the end’ has remained remarkably similar.
Surprise and relief
Knowing I’ve shaped a story from beginning through that (for me) tortuous middle until completion brings both surprise and relief.
There’s the ‘I did it’ feeling of achievement mixed with the surprise of actually ‘doing it.’
Each book brings new learning and new challenges, about both myself as a person and as a writer. And although I couldn’t imagine my life without writing, it’s always a bit like I imagine walking a tightrope to be—a magical alchemy premised on a complicated mix of exhilaration, satisfaction, adrenaline, and terror.
An urge to clean
When I’m immersed in the world of a book, some degree of domestic chaos always ensues. Aligning as it did with the final clear-out and then sale of my late mother’s home, and more health issues for English Rose, the chaos with this book has been considerably worse than usual.
As such, and as I come ‘down’ from that ‘book completion high,’ I’m sorting, tidying, and reorganizing my home. Albeit temporary, thanks to living with a husband, teenager, and dog, the progress I’m making is more tangible and fulfils me in a different way than writing does.
Over the years, I’ve learned there’s something therapeutic about digging into closets, clearing out cupboards and dusting—clearing the mental cobwebs as much as the physical ones—before starting afresh.
Reconnecting with everyday life
When I’m on a book deadline, the world of my story becomes more real than my everyday life.
Over the years, Tech Guy and English Rose have become accustomed to my book abstraction, but are likely now breathing twin sighs of relief that I’ll ‘hear’ them the first time they speak to me for the next few months—and may even remember what was discussed!
I’m also catching up on long overdue emails, Netflix movies, and lunches with friends.
A time to read
Top of my to-be-read (TBR) list?
In the spirit of the season, The Christmas Holiday by author friend, Sophie Claire, and Christmas at Miss Moonshine’s Emporium, a festive story anthology to which Sophie and another friend, Kate Field, also contributed.
‘Nesting’ for winter
Completing this book has also aligned with the time of year I ‘nest’ for winter.
Together with the seasonal wardrobe rotation (into the cedar chest go my light summer tops and dresses to make way for snug woolens), preparing my home for this new season of cocooning is both comforting and restorative.
Tech Guy and I have bought new living room cushions, and I’ve swapped summery candles, beachy décor, and throws for cozier winter versions.
I’m dipping into recipe books too for hearty stews and fruit crumbles, and my summer plants are now inside to overwinter by a sunny kitchen window.
A time to celebrate…and sleep
Finally, and just like a book release, finishing a book is also cause for celebration as women’s fiction writer Chrissy Clark reminded me when she posed this question recently to the #writingcommunity on Twitter:
“Do you have a celebratory ritual for THE END? I don’t, but I’d like something more dignified than bouncing off the walls like Tigger!”
In reading the responses to her question, I realized that in the past month, and despite having both a new book out and another one completed, I’ve been so caught up in ‘busy-ness’ that anything celebratory slipped entirely off my to-do list.
So, happy ‘nesting’ of your own and here’s to celebrating achievements large and small in life and writing—before I start all over again with a new ‘Chapter One’ next week.