I was going to blog today–well, tomorrow, actually, because it’s 12:25 am right at this moment–about pantsing, and how sometimes really cool stuff just appears, and I’ve had two incidences of that in the last two days and it was awesome. And I might go ahead and blog about that at the League in the morning; I probably will.
But right now…right now I feel awful.
I just finished the book.
It should be a good thing. And it is, really. Finishing a book is a Good Thing. We *should* finish books. Especially contracted books.
But this one–new title DEVOURER OF GHOSTS–is the third Downside book. The last contracted Downside book. And I have no idea if I’ll get to write more.
I certainly hope I will. I hope the series is popular enough, sells well enough to justify another contract. But there are no guarantees, as we all know; especially not in this business.
So right at this moment, instead of celebrating, instead of gleefully sitting back and having a cocktail, I am bereft. Totally and completely.
Sure, I’m not done done. I have edits. I have a subplot to strengthen and a Baddie to make badder. I have copyedits for DOWNSIDE GHOSTS. Heck, I have edits and line edits and copyedits for this book. It’s not like I never get to visit this world again, or play with these characters I love so much–and I do, I really, really love them. I’m looking forward to actually reading this book first page to last, as I haven’t done that yet.
But I don’t know how much more playing I’ll get to do. I don’t know if I’ll get to create new stories for them, to expand what’s there. I have some scenes already waiting in my head, some plot twists and moments and scares; I have no idea if I’ll ever get to write them. I have full plots for the next two books, in fact, including an entire weeklong ceremonial celebration complete with blood sacrifices and roaring fires and haunted streets…and I might never get to write any of it.
Intellectually I know I’ll get over it. That after a few days I’ll have found something else to work on–I’m actually 17k into a new project and I am looking forward to making some heavy progress on that–and, hey, if things don’t work out I can spin those ideas into a new world and it just might work, right?
Intellectually I know I feel this way when most of my books end. It’s worse for the non-series books, when you really *are* done with those characters when you write THE END. I’ve never cried after finishing a book until now, but I usually feel like it. Writing a book takes an enormous amount out of a person, or at least, out of me. By the time it’s done I’m usually sort of a drooling goon, unable to think or talk about anything else, unable to see anything else, I’m so focused on bringing a good ending home; my eyes burn, my hands ache, my right arm is sore from moving the cursor, my knees stiff from being folded in one position for so long. I haven’t gotten a solid night’s sleep in a week; I wake up three or four times, jerked from dreams in which the characters act out scenes in my head. It’s always like that for me as the book starts wrapping up, but this one has been worse.
So I know all this. I know I’ll get over it and be okay, that I’ll go to sleep now and wake up feeling much better and ready to start editing. But it doesn’t help, not right now. Not when I’m facing saying goodbye. This is the series that got me an agent and my first NY deal; the one that paid for us to go back home in a few weeks. And I just love it so much and I feel so lonely and uncertain.
The part that was up to me, the real heavy lifting, is done. I know pretty much what needs to be done in edits. Aside from the subplot and strengthening it’s just fine-tuning: fiddling with sentence structure, eliminating redundancies, etc. I’ve done what I can do, what I needed to do, and I’ll continue to do so, but soon it won’t matter at all. It won’t matter what I think or how I feel. Because the book will be out there, in the hands of readers (um, or not, which of course is the real fear), and what they think of it will make all the difference. That’s scary. Very scary. This is a very dark series, about drugs and poverty and ghettos; in this climate, are people really going to want to read about my punk-rock ghetto no-hopers? I sure hope so, but there’s no way to tell, is there.
So there you go. My unvarnished thoughts on finishing a book, specifically this book, which is the last book under contract. I hope I get to write more. I want to write more, desperately.
But I might not get to. And it’s hard to think about and it makes me sad. And that’s where I am at this moment; just sad. And hopeful, and nervous, and scared, and wishing I could start it all over so I don’t have to say goodbye.
Sorry, everyone. I’ll have cheered up by Thursday, I promise.