Saturday, May 16, 2020

When is a novel done? Finished. Finito. When, amidst the flurry of activity to get a story out there, do you consider a work fully and completely "done"?

Is it when you’ve hit that final keystroke after that last chapter and you sit back and think, “I did it. The story is told!”

Is it after you’ve spent a grueling two months deleting and rewriting and hating on your descriptions and rethinking plot holes and after your editor has shredded your manuscript with red pen and then…then! Editing is completed! Is it done?

When you are holding it in your hands, a bound version of your dreams and hopes and wishes – when you are signing your autograph inside the cover – is it done?

When you see it receive reviews – is it done?

When, after a few months, you pick it up to reread it just to see if you can tolerate your own writing yet, and you find that maybe you had something to offer. Maybe?

Are you done?

No. At least, you shouldn’t be. Writing a novel isn’t a sprint or a marathon or any other lame analogy this world spews out at you. You don’t run your guts out to achieve the finish line and be done with a story. You don’t walk away and pat yourself on the back.

That book is a part of you now. Like a growth on your soul, it’s going to be with you always. You are always going to care about your book. Even if it sucked a little. Even if it didn’t make you a penny in profits.

Writing, being a writer, doesn’t have an expiration date. Your stories, your book-babies, your heart-and-soul-via-words, will not be done, even after you are gone. They will continue to give something to every reader, to change the minds and hearts of those who pick it up, possibly until the world ends.

I know this isn’t what you were expecting out of this post. You wanted info on when you can finally relax after you’ve done your running to get a manuscript out. You’re exhausted and want to know when you will be normal again. Or, better yet, you are already underway being sure you will never be normal again because writing has you. It has taken hold of you and it won’t let go.

You have written and are therefore a writer. You will never be ‘done’.

A. Shepherd is the author of several published short stories and the novel To Wake A Sleeping Child. Learn more about her and her books HERE.

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