Five things I’ve learned about finishing a book

So, the moment has arrived and I’ve actually finished writing my first draft of my first novel.  It’s a pretty exciting moment for me.  I woke up one morning, determined that today was the day, and bashed out 9000 words before teatime – focus!  I’ve learned some important things though that I thought might be helpful to share.

1. The ending is way harder than the start

Maybe this is just me.  Maybe everyone else finds the end way easier than the beginning. But it was a real slog for me.  I was starting to get panicked about all the gaps in the plot, all the massive cracks I’d left to paper over.  A good beginning is about getting as many balls going as you can.  The finish is definitely about trying to catch all of them and pack them back up.  As anyone who’s ever played with lego will tell you, the getting it out is much simpler than putting it back away.

2. It is possible though

This was a big stumbling block for me.  I’ve never written a novel before.  I’ve never written anything beyond about 10,000 words before and this is way beyond that.  And until you’ve done it, you don’t really know what’s possible.  It’s a bit of a catch-22 and I probably let my psyche psych me out on this.  But I’ve done it now, so it is possible.  And if you want to do it, it’s possible to do.

3. The end is only just the beginning

That sounds quite sinister really.  It’s not meant to.  But now I realise that actually writing the thing was probably the easiest part of the whole endeavour.  I’m lucky in that making shit up has always been a forte (that makes me sound like a liar – that’s not what I meant!  I’m just good with words… honestly!) and so the words flowed quite fluently.  But getting those words down is the smallest bit of what needs doing.  The editing and the proof reading seem to be never ending already.  The acting on feedback and the shaping and revisiting are infinite.  And then there’s the whole marketing and hopefully selling.  And those are all the bits I know I’m going to find harder than making shit up in the beginning.

4. People will ask you about book two

I think murder might be a legitimate response to the people who, on hearing you’ve finished your first novel, are asking about what will happen in book two.  Hang on a minute!  Just let me revel in my own glory for a couple of weeks before you start asking me about the next one.  I don’t know!

5. It is the most amazing feeling

Honestly, even if you know that point three is probably going to haunt your waking dreams for the foreseeable future, finishing the novel gave me the most amazing sense of satisfaction.  I’ve been working on it for two years, fitting it in around teaching and family life and to be able to type ‘the end’?  Just wow!

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