There is Weeping & Gnashing of Teeth

Lake Crescent from Pyramid Peak

Lake Crescent from Pyramid Peak

When I finish writing a book, that is. Well, not so much weeping anymore. I cried when I finished the first two novels (The Wyckham House – as yet unreleased – and Office Politics).

I wrote Office Politics right on the heels of finishing The Wyckham House; I’d read that you should put your first manuscript in a drawer and take it out to edit only when you have fresh eyes, like, say, in 10 or 15 years.

The third book (The Secret Dreams of Sarah-Jane Quinn) wasn’t started for several months. On the heels of completing Office Politics, my daughter’s high school boyfriend fell from the understructure of a bridge and was killed on impact. We’d known this boy since he was five years old. The words dried up, because words come from my heart, and my heart was ripped to shreds. There was no lifeblood left; it all flowed out with my tears. Sarah-Jane wasn’t begun for four months, and when I finally started writing again, the words came haltingly, slowly, agonizingly.

So what does it feel like to finish a book? That’s really the point of this blog post. Those who have already know, although it’s different for every writer. This is how it is for me.

There is relief. Finally, finally, this story is out on paper. No more waking in the middle of the night with prose or dialogue running through my head. No more waking in the middle of the night, worrying about how to segue into a new scene. No more waking in the middle of the night with a “DAMN! THAT’S A HELLUVA’N IDEA!” I’ve seen the story through to the end, and it’s been an adventure, but now I’m glad to let go of its hand and relax.

There is sorrow. My characters are drawn from loved ones and from myself, little bits and pieces spliced together and given extensive plastic surgery so they aren’t Frankenstein monsters. I breathe emotion into them, assign them goals and triumphs and heartaches, a crazy-quilt of experience that gives them life. They are part of me, the children of my imagination, the focus of my dreams and attention and nurturing, and when, at last, their story is told, I feel as though I’ve lost more than just treasured friends, but part of my very heart.

There is excitement. I have a OneNote notebook literally bursting with story ideas and plans, and the lure of a shiny new project is exciting and rejuvenating. My hands itch to jump into a new story, to piece together new characters like mysterious puzzles, to stitch together another crazy quilt of life experiences that will plunge my new friends into the depths of despair and raise them to new heights of euphoria and joy.

Paul Valery, French critic and poet, said “A poem is never finished, only abandoned.” The same is true with a story. I fiddle with this, adjust that, add more, delete passages, until my beta readers scream for mercy and my editor threatens to club me into oblivion. Finally I let it go, release it into the world as is, and bite my fingernails, hoping that you, my readers, don’t see those spotty areas that need a little scrub-and-shine.

So why am I writing this post? Yes, you guessed it, because I’ve finished a novel. This one hasn’t been with me nearly as long as The Wyckham House (the idea of which was conceived in 1982, was abandoned several times and finally stuffed into a drawer for ten years, only to be taken out and completed in 7 months in 2007). I started this novel in 1995, and it, too, went into a drawer with The Wyckham House until my kids were older and laptops were cheaper and I could write without having to be tethered to a desktop computer in another room. It’s been pushed aside in favor of finishing Wyckham, Office Politics, Sarah-Jane Quinn, and my novella Malakh. It’s been restructured, replotted, and rewritten. And now, to my sorrow and excitement, it is finished.

So yes, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and some relaxing. I’m off to the lake, ignoring the new worlds and new friends and new words for a little while.

Only for a little while.

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8 thoughts on “There is Weeping & Gnashing of Teeth

  1. Karen in Breezy Point says:

    I have chills! Congratulations on finishing your latest book.
    Karen in Breezy Point
    (I’m not a writer, but promise to comment on Office Politics when I read it. I’m a little back-logged with books right now…more so since I won a Kindle by commenting on your blog earlier this summer. Thanks so much!)

  2. Gail Gerlach says:

    Finally a stop to the editing, editing, editing and just finish the story! That’s what I told you those long ten years ago. Finish the story first then edit. It worked……

    Love you!

  3. Lauralynn Elliott says:

    I can’t wait to read more stories written by you! Is there any publishing of any of these in sight? :0)

    I’m so, so sorry about your daughter’s high school boyfriend. Such a tragedy! I think you probably know that I lost my best friend a little over three months ago. Oddly enough, I was able to continue to write. I think it was because I knew she would want me to. But sometimes, things like that just suck the words right out of you.

    • Sharon says:

      Lauralynn, yes, I remember you lost your best friend recently. I can’t imagine the pain – I would die without either of mine (my husband, and my BFF girlfriend). I just had no words. I think it was the combination of dealing with the end of a novel (I always go through a period of mourning when I finish) and the mourning of a real-life treasured person; having both at the same time was too much.

      As for the publishing … The Wyckham House is my next project. It needs a good read-through and some heavy editing. I did a revision – restructuring the whole story, deleting parts, writing new parts, about a year ago. Now it’s time to get it out there. The new one is its sequel; I hope to release them about a month apart, like I did Office Politics & Sarah-Jane Quinn. But by the end of the year, they should both be available. 🙂 These ones are paranormal romance, quite a bit darker than my straight-up romances.

  4. christel42 says:

    If it makes If it makes you feel better, I cried like a freaking baby reading the end of Gothic, or whatever you decide to call it. Your characters resonate with me on such a personal level, that they feel like family. Oftentimes, even closer to me than family?!

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