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22 June 2005 @ 10:46 am
query: emotional state of a novelist  
x-posted in part from my regular journal, 'cause I think a bunch of the writers I know don't subscribe to the mizkit_feed, and I'm curious to see what people say.

I'm on the downward end of this book. I wonder how other novelists I know feel when they finish writing a book. I seem to recall a lot of triumph when I finished my first one, and being pretty pleased when I finished my second, especially as I'd given myself a deadline and stuck to it. I was astonished and extremely satisfied when I finished ANGLES, because it's got a complicated structure and it all wove together really, really well, and I finished the first draft of HEART OF STONE faster than I expected to have to, so I was pleased with getting it done.

But I think the predominant emotion I feel upon finishing a novel these days is relief. Not like I didn't think I could do it, but rather more like...I'm glad it's done, but not sufficiently happy to call it happy. Just relieved. Pleased, but not gleeful. Sometimes cheerful (I'm feeling pretty cheery right now, and I'm not even done yet!) but mostly just ... satisfied. There: that's done. That sort of thing.

FIREBIRD DECEPTION is my 8th solo novel and my 9th overall. (10th, if you count Banshee Cries, which is technically a novella. Does it count?) Possibly one becomes jaded to having finished the thing after you've done it half a dozen times or so.

I think right now the part I really *like* is going back and reading the manuscript several weeks later, after I've gotten agent/editorial comments, and seeing where it can be improved and seeing that overall, hey, you know, that turned out to be a pretty good story after all! I'm almost always lots happier with having finished it at that point, which no doubt is due to the distance.

So how 'bout others of you? What kinds of emotional responses do you have to finishing a novel? (I ask about novels because that's what I write. Other writers can certainly chime in.)
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Alix (Tersa): Writingtersa on June 22nd, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
Having never been able to finish a chapter, much less a novel, I don't think I'm of much help. :) But, I am interested in seeing how people respond to your question.

I admire that you can finish novels!
Anna the Piperannathepiper on June 22nd, 2005 03:07 pm (UTC)
I've only finished the one so far in recent history, so I've got a very limited sample set of reactions to talk about. Certainly mine could have been summarized as 'giddy ecstasy' and 'HOT DAMN I FINISHED A NOVEL'!

From what I remember of finishing off the stuff I used to write in school, I had less of that and more of a general overall feeling of satisfaction.

I kind of expect to have the profound sense of satisfaction sort of reaction once I finish off Lament, just because it's been much more of a challenge to me than Faerie Blood.

And I can totally buy that the euphoria kind of wears off after you do it for a while. The flame is still there, just burning more steadily now and at a lower pitch than the initial huge explosive rush. :)
S. L. Grayshadowhwk on June 22nd, 2005 03:53 pm (UTC)
You know. I never had euphoria. Relief, and a kind of baffled 'huh, well, that's done'. But not euphoria.

It's far more happy-making for me to say 'I've completed X novels!'

Probably because they all need to be fixed. :)
kitmizkit on June 22nd, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Yeah, the "Huh, that's done" sums it up pretty nicely, I think. :)

FIX! FIX! FIX! your novels! (to, you know. the tune of that, uh. song. the one. you know. o.O)
S. L. Grayshadowhwk on June 22nd, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
*eyes*

*bops around singing song*

ever so pluckyaelfsciene on June 22nd, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
Every single time I visit you guys and walk past your roses, I get "chop chop chop! chop chop chop! chop your roses! chop your roses!" O.O
(Deleted comment)
Patchchamois_shimi on June 30th, 2005 11:24 am (UTC)
So, in every other case, the voice I hear 'speaking' the words I'm reading is mine. In *this* case, it's YOURS!

*laugh*! I know exactly what you mean... I had the exact same experience reading US. ;)
Calcalene on June 22nd, 2005 07:40 pm (UTC)
I'll be different here.

When I finish a novel, I feel bummed. Every time, I go through a mild sort of post-bookum depression. Sure, I feel accomplished that I wrote another novel (how many people out there manage to finish even one, much less more), but I'm sad that I can no longer experience the journey for the first time. This is the part where I need to step back from the book for a month or two because my brain starts to translate the sadness to dissatisfaction with the work. I convince myself it's the worst thing ever written.

When I come back after a month or two, I love it again just as much as I did when I was writing it. The flaws are there, but they no longer seem impossible to fix. I get back to work on making it the best possible book I'm capable of, and in the end, I'm usually happy with how things turn out.

I'm currently working on my 7th, and I'm not looking forward to the depression when I finish the draft. However, at least I've been through it enough to times that I'm prepared for it. Step back, start work on something else, and know that after I come back to edit it, things will be all right.
Quezzquezz on June 23rd, 2005 10:36 am (UTC)
Not a novelist...
..but I did feel relief when I finished the first draft of my dissertation, which is a book after all. :) It was the beginning of my troubles with it, but that moment felt pretty good when I could say I had a roughly finished product.

As I have begun to write my essays on life and travel in China, I am starting to feel relief at each essay that comes to form. I know I have a long way to go, but I enjoy the trip getting there so much that I don't mind its length.

Now I wish i felt the same about getting this damn divorce rolling...