On November 29, after months of early mornings, meticulous plotting, and long writing sessions, I finally reached the final scene of my book. I’d been working up to it for some time, and was somewhere between anticipation of finally reaching this well planned out moment, and dreading it because then it would all be over. The characters felt as real to me as cherished friends, and I knew that once I reached the end, I would also have to say goodbye to them in a way. Sure, there was still lots of editing to go, but the adventure was wrapped up.
Still, my characters deserved a finish to their story. And so, on that anticipated and dreaded day, I cleared my calendar, locked my door, and spent several hours alone with them in my office as we reached the finale together. And then, when I typed The End, I…
Let’s pause there for a moment and take a step back in time. It was 2012, a few months before my wedding to my now-husband, and I had just woken up from one of those pre-wedding dreams where I’d died before I even got the chance to marry him. I woke up feeling devastated and peaceful about it, all at the same time. Even more, I had the beginnings of a book flowing through me. I quickly wrote down the whole outline for it, then tucked it away so I could write after our October wedding.
The wedding was lovely, the honeymoon even lovelier, and November 1 hit and I was ready for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, when I planned to write this whole story in one month. For 30 days, I woke up early and wrote for two hours straight. When I came home, I wrote some more. I created bios for my characters, got to know them really well, and felt them with me as I went about my day. And on the last day of November, with tears streaming down my face, I wrote the final scene to the book and closed my computer.
And then I was alone.
I’m not really sure what I expected when I finished writing my very first book. I’ll tell you what didn’t happen though. There was no parade in my honor. There were no confetti falling from the sky. When I announced on Facebook that I’d finished writing a book, I got a lot of congratulations. But it wasn’t big enough. You guys, I FINISHED WRITING MY BOOK. THROW ME A PARADE.
I learned early on how anticlimactic it really is to finish writing a book. I mean, an author spends every free moment of their time pouring their soul into the pages, bleeding their life into these characters, and created a whole entire world for them to live in. It’s a huge friggin’ deal.
But it’s my huge friggin’ deal, not everyone else’s. I realized that if I want a big deal made out of writing a book, I need to be the one to make it a big deal.
Here’s the other truth, though—writing The End does not mean I finished writing a book; it means I’ve finished writing the bones of the book. The first draft of any book is the author telling themselves the story. The editing phase is when you shape the story for readers. And you guys? Editing is A LOT of long and hard work. It took me a month to write my first book. It took a lot longer than that to edit it. And by the time you finish editing, you’re ready to cut the apron strings, kick your precious book baby out of the nest, and tell them to get a job and an apartment.
Which brings me back to this year, more than a dozen books later, and this most recent book I just finished writing. November 29, and I reached the final scene, the one I’d been leading up to since Day 1 of telling the story. I caressed those words. I took my time with them. I wanted to get this scene just right. And then, when I finally reached the end, I took a deep breath, saved my manuscript, and then closed my computer.
“I finished my book,” I told Shawn. He stopped what he was doing and gave me a grin.
“I bet that feels good, doesn’t it?” he said. And it did. For the past few months, I’d been waking up at 3 a.m. to start writing. On weekends, I spent hours in my office working on this book. To say I was tired was an understatement. But now that I was done, I had a new burst of energy.
And so, on November 29, the first draft of my book finished and months of editing ahead of me, I relished the fact that I could finally rest.
I celebrated that night by helping my husband hang shelves in his office before we enjoyed a dinner of leftovers. There was no parade. No confetti. I didn’t even pop a bottle of champagne. But I did finish my book, and it felt damn good.