The picture is one of our babies, Dixie Doodle Bug, a few years ago. Isn’t she precious?
I finished today! Polished, revised, tweaked, everything! Finishing a story is always an emotional roller coaster ride for me. First, of course, is relief. Then there’s a burst of exhilaration and a rush of giddiness so strong I had to walk it off in Borders. I suspect it’s just a release of the intense concentration and focus.
Gradually, a sickening sensation works its way into my stomach.
But then I try to forget it and reward myself with two hours of poking around the stacks. I’m writing a whole new book. Time for a shiny new idea! As I poke around, I’m looking for a perfect book, the one book that is everything I ever dreamed of in a novel, the one book that will inspire me to write better than I ever have before!
Nothing is precisely and exactly what I want. (Which, I suspect, is why most writers write.)
Pretty soon I start getting this itchy, panicky feeling at the base of my spine. I feel all jittery and nervous. I’m not writing anything. It’s like standing naked in a bookstore or something. It’s like, if I’m not mired in the depths of a story, I’m no longer a writer.
I start pacing the bookstore, trying to figure out how I’m going to write this next novel, trying not to let fear creep in, but my determination feels all jittery and caffeinated.
I gotta get started on the next one, prove I can write better.
Sometimes it feels like there is no sweet spot in a novel. At the beginning, I fear I won’t have enough story. At the quarter point, I fear I’ll never make it to the end. In the middle, I fear I’ve made a mess of everything. Near the end, I worry that it won’t be satisfying enough, strong enough, powerful enough. And then comes one moment of exhilaration before the insecurities kick in, before I’m worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to write the next book.
I swear, the only peace I get is when I’m actually writing, when I’m living in my fictional world and putting it on the page.
What about you? Do you have a sweet spot that is most pleasurable in the process?
And just for fun, I played with Mark Terry’s Word Count stats:
Word words: 47,238
TNR words: 184 x 350 = 64,400
Courier words: 238 x 250 = 59,500
Funky. That’s kinda neat, kinda disconcerting. Probably my last novella woulda been a novel around 71,000 words by NY standards. Okay, I usually don’t think about this kinda stuff, but now I’m feeling slightly neurotic about this, too.
Well hey, there’s a bright side. If I use these types of word counts, I can say I’ve written plenty of short novels rather than long novellas ...