When You Finish A Book

imageSo I finished my book.

Well, I’ve finished it for now. It still needs work and it might even need more words, or some taking away, but it’s finished enough for me to show it to someone else. And since I’ve been writing it for almost two years, I thought I would celebrate a little bit. Woo hoo!

Writing is a funny thing. Like a lot of creative processes, it often relies solely on you – your idea, your ability to get the idea across, your talent with words. If the story doesn’t come out right, there’s no one else to blame – it’s completely down to you. And there are times when I’m writing that I doubt whether I can tell the story the way it needs to. Sometimes, I’m not sure if it’s even the right story. I even start to think I cannot remember how to write. I get The Fear.

The Fear is all of those things and more. It’s worrying your book is not good enough. It’s feeling like no one will read it. It’s being scared no one will like it. And because books are really part of the person who writes them, it’s thinking that no one will like YOU. The Fear can hit you at any stage of writing a book but when I’m writing, it tends to go like this:

1) I love this idea – this is going to be the Best Story EVER!

2) I hate this idea – no one is going to like my character\believe the plot\get it

3) Hmmm – maybe it’s not so bad

4) I love this story – everyone is going to love it!

5) I hate myself – I can’t tell the story right. I am giving up.

6) Hmmm – maybe it’s not so bad

7) Yay, it’s finished…I wonder if anyone is going to like it?

So now it’s with my very first reader and I’m nibbling my nails, wondering if she is going to like it. And I’ve started writing something else, because otherwise I’d send myself crazy worrying about what she’s going to say. Then I’ll start fixing all the things my reader tells me are wrong with it (she knows a lot about stories). And then it might be ready to send to some other people to read. Because the things about stories is that they’re never really finished – there’s always something we can change, a sentence or a word we can fix to make it better.

There’s a great quote from John Lasseter, who works for Pixar (the movie studio that makes films like Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Up) and he says, ‘Our films don’t get finished, they just get released’, because there’s always something else they could change and then the movie would never be released.

Books are a bit like that. It’s never 100% perfect but that’s OK, sometimes you have to let go anyway. No matter how bad The Fear makes you feel. And anyway, I have this new idea to think about. I love it, it’s going the be the Best Story EVER…


13 thoughts on “When You Finish A Book

  1. I recognize those voices SO WELL! Congratulations on getting your current book to this stage – that’s HUGE! (I’m bouncing back and forth between 2 and 3 at the moment – keen to move on to 4!)

    • It’s such a relief when you realise ALL writers feel like that! Good luck with getting to 4. It’s taken me such a long time and I’ve written four other books in the meantime!

  2. Oh Gosh, I know all those numbers! They’re ALWAYS in my head! I’ve finished my story, now I’m on draft 3 of it, it’s starting to take shape. Hopefully, someone will like it. 🙂

  3. I feel a bit like that with the essays I have to write for school, I always start off confident and end up wishing that I could quietly steal back my exercise book to shred everything I’ve written 😀 When we get them back it’s so ridiculous it’s almost funny because we all spend about five minutes working up the courage to look at how we did!

    • We used to have to share our stories with each other at school, Faolan, which made things even more nerve-wracking! But excited ng too because stories are meant to be shared 🙂

  4. Reblogging this – I can totally relate to everything you’re saying. I’ve just received feedback from my first reader, she love it. Lots of improvements to be made, but the story works and that’s the biggie.

    • Ooh, exciting times! Great that your reader loves your story. I quite like editing to make everything tighter and better but only when I can see exactly what needs doing. Good luck!

  5. Everything you’ve just said is so true! I hate the see-sawing we do between doubt and confidence. I’d like to think that confidence wins because we finally submit our books. But even then, I’m not sure.
    Right now my mind is getting twisted in to knots because I’m currently writing two very different fantasy series. I just finished and – GULP – submitted Pegasus 5 (Greek/Roman series) and now I have to go straight back into Valkyrie 3, (Norse series) and that mischievous monster, “doubt” is standing right behind me, knocking on the doors of my mind saying things like:
    ‘You’ll never make Valkyrie 3 as exciting as your Pegasus series, don’t even try!’
    But then once I’ve wrestled my fears down to the ground and finished it and have to go back to Pegasus 6, you know that “doubt” will be right there saying, ‘This one’ll never be as good as Valkyrie.’
    And so the fight within ourselves goes on and on…
    I just hope it’s that mix of doubt and confidence that gives us all the drive to write the best we can.
    The rest is up is up to the Fates…

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