It took me two years and I’ve done it: I’ve finished writing a novel.
And now that it’s done, I thought I’d feel the subtle, sublime sense of an ending, something cathartic, something to celebrate. I can’t say that it didn’t feel amazing: it left me breathless… but it definitely feels much more like a middle.
That’s because, immediately upon finishing, all the thoughts of what comes next came rushing to my mind:
- Write a 1-line hook that compels everyone to read it
- Build an ‘author platform’
- Find an agent
- Edit x3
- Find a publisher
- Create a marketing & publicity plan (I suppose that requires me to have said ‘platform’ to ‘leverage’)
- Edit a little (or a lot) more…
Granted, I now have more time to think about these things: these new and exciting things, like this blog – something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. But I feel the same impatience with myself now that I’ve felt since that New Year’s Eve over 2 years ago that I first picked up my pen.
The story dominated my life for two years and, throughout, I would think ‘once I’ve finished my novel, I’ll…’
INSERT: quit smoking for good this time / focus on a new job / let someone read my work / volunteer / play more sport / start that blog I’m always thinking about / let someone new into my life
But human nature has caught up with me again, it seems. It doesn’t matter how often we learn this lesson, it seems we always fall for those arbitrary, artificial moments that are meant to mark an end-point and change our lives for good. Truth is, they don’t. Or if they do, it’s not in the way that we foresee. Happiness and meaning – fulfillment – don’t seep in suddenly on the day you graduate from high school or college or the day you quit your job. It doesn’t suddenly appear on the day you finish your novel. Not if you don’t let it.
When I spot this immediate stress and impatience in myself, I often sigh and recollect popular wisdom that says if there’s nothing left to strive for then we’ve lost our purpose, the very foundation of our happiness. Ah, the paradox of the human condition. But I think it’s time I let that go. I think it’s time we all let that go.
I think it’s time I put my worries and to-do’s away, call my mom & dad, go out for a pizza with a lovely young man and a nice glass of wine – pat myself on the back and say, “damn, girl, you wrote a BOOK”
Let’s do this for each other too.