In the movies, when someone finishes writing a book, it’s with a huge fanfare. The camera pans in on an index finger explosively hitting the last key, then the writer throws back the chair and throws his hands up in the air. Finally! Music plays. Success.

In real life, it doesn’t happen like that.

Yesterday, I had a great writing day. Mostly I was proofing, but I also wrote a few new paragraphs and moved some things around. I did a quick scan for the changes I’d made. Then it was time to get L. from school, so I put the computer down and went into dealing-with-tired-preschooler-mode. A couple of hours later, exhausted, my forehead in knots from having stared at the computer for eight long hours, I walked to get sushi with some friends. Halfway there I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and cocked my head to the side.

Holy cow, I thought. I just finished my book.

Image from mpclemens, whom you can find on flickr

Image from mpclemens, whom you can find on flickr

Actually, that’s the elevator pitch version. Here’s the whole story:

1. Three falls ago (three!), I thought I had finished my book. I sent a completed manuscript to a friend’s agent. She said no thanks, and her explanation of why made me realize there was a problem with the way I’d written the story. Back to the desk.

2. That following summer, I tried again. There was some interest, but no one fell in love with it. One agent told me, “I think you need to dig deeper.” I decided I agreed.

3. I dug deeper.

4. I gave the manuscript to my writing group (again).

5. Thanks to their feedback, I wrote a prologue. I also changed the title.

6. I tinkered for another six months.

7. Yesterday, I had a great writing day. Mostly I was proofing, but I also wrote a few new paragraphs and moved some things around. I did a quick scan for the changes I’d made. Then it was time to get L. from school, so I put the computer down and went into dealing-with-tired-preschooler-mode. A couple of hours later, exhausted, my forehead in knots from having stared at the computer all morning, I walked to get sushi with some friends. Halfway there I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and cocked my head to the side.

Holy cow, I thought. I just finished my book. Then I had a beer with dinner.

Part of me wanted some fanfare, I must admit. I kind of wanted to slam my finger onto the last key, give a giant whoop, and pop a bottle of champagne. Instead I’m sitting in a coffee shop drinking a cup of joe and thinking I should probably give it another proofread before I send it out. It’s a little anticlimactic, but honestly, I’m not sure it could be any other way.

%d bloggers like this: