Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hope Springs Eternal

...And it does.

Finishing a project is always difficult for me. (At least, finishing a solo project is--the corwitten books, while I love them, don't tend to get as personal for me, if that makes any sense.)

Anyway. It hurts a little to finish a book. I'm one of those people who could tinker with it for ages, or at least until the moment I decide it sucks. Which is generally a few weeks after I've finished it. Part of me still believes in it and loves it, but what I seem to really remember is the bits I edited out. It's like I see the book viewed through a lens of repeated words and thought.

But that's not important at the moment. Plus, you know, it makes me sound like a bit of a loser. Which I am so NOT! Ha ha! Not me! And if anyone out there is reading this with an eye towards representing me, I am GREAT to work with! And not a kook at all.

But today I realized something.

I've had an idea.

Something clicked in my head, and now I have another idea, for another book, for another project. I'm not washed up, the book out there now is NOT my only shot. There's more out there for me, and I know there is.

I can't remember now who said this (probably Stephen King because, let's face it, every wise thing we all quote to each other about writing was always said by Stephen King. He's the Winston Churchill/Oscar Wilde of discussions about writing), but it's true. Ask a writer what his favorite book of his is, and it's always the one he's working on right then. Those old books? No, no. Nowhere near as good as what he's doing now!

And that's the way I look at it. My last finished project--I love it. I think it's great, and smart, and sexy, and I still want to cry at the idea that it might not be The One.

But if it isn't, I keep plugging. Because that's what we do.

I reach for the next idea and I get started.
How do you feel when you've finished a project, whether it's a book or something at your other work or what?


bunnygirl said...

I always feel sad when I finish a writing project, because I'll miss my characters and their world.

Other projects, like paintings and more physical things like training for a race, are nice to finish. I have a sense of accomplishment.

But when I finish a work of fiction, I feel like I've lost a dear friend. :-(

Isabella Snow said...

Im my other job, I have 2 forms of work. I have what I do every week, and thats something I just feel tired at the end of. Emotionally exhausted, really.

The second is done once a year and is a lot like making a book - you create and then sit back while 10 other people give their opinions and ultimately decide what your 'book' looks like in the end. When that process is over, I rarely touch that 'book' again, as I'm well sick of it by that time.

However, I'm not nearly as jaded in writing, perhaps cos I haven't been doing it for 12 years!

I feel sad when Im done writing it. Sad like the characters are done talking to me. How schizo is *that*??

But I feel nicely wrapped up when I get the finals, having the real book somehow makes it all better.

crowwoman / rhian said...

Isa - I wonder if that's why some authors do continuation stories with particular characters - because they just keep talking. Grin!
For me - I'm always thrilled when a collection for a show is done because I've already moved ahead to the next one or two concepts and am jumping up and down to get started. I do alot of research for almost every exhibition theme and consider that time period my "down" time. I'm still mentally cranking but not really putting pencil to paper yet for idea sketches. There are certain paintings I've created though that I miss dreadfully once they've sold. I can keep a print of it but it's just not the same.

December Quinn said...

Well, Bunnygirl, I don't do much creative work besides writing--although I like to cook, and I admit sometimes I hate finishing a really good meal because now it's gone--so I don't know about finishing races or paitning. But I feel the same way about characters in my books. I can go re-read their story, but I don't ever get to tell it again.

Let's hope after we've been writing for 12 years none of us are jaded, Isabella!

And again, it's not schizo at all. I feel the same way. I hate feeling like there was more about them I could have told people and didn't get to. There's so many thngs I know about my characters that nobody else does and probably never's depressing.

December Quinn said...

That's a really good attitude, though, Rhian. As I said in the post, I don't think I start to move on from the old project until I'm ready to start a new one. And even then I can't think about it too much or I get all lonely and sad.

I do think, though, that for me a "print" is better. I'd rather have a book than my computer file or printed out ms!

Devon Ellington said...

There's always relief and elation when finishing a project, but then also some separation anxiety. I miss spending regular time with the characters in their world.

I'm usually working on multiple projects, and I've got ideas stacked up like planes over LaGuardia, so I never worry about the NEXT one -- but I miss the one justs finished.

Ink in My Coffee

littlebirdblue said...

When I finish a novel, I am so happy and glorious and proud.

Then I put it in a drawer for a few weeks and pull it out (print it out) and read it and Lo! it is shite. It is mud and dirt, and not the good kind sweet grass and yummy vegetables can grow in. I tweak and edit and rewrite, then put away for another month or so (already working through the next, of course)....

And then it comes back into the light of day, and I hold me breath, and YAY! It's delicious.

Poetry (my own poetry and select others--I'm much pickier in poetry than in prose) I love right off the bat. I go back and read my poems over and over again when I feel unaccomplished in other things.

Short stories, I don't know yet. I haven't experimented yet enough to get a handle on the process there.

kis said...

Building fences, bookcases, built-in cabinets, painting walls, putting together furniture, sewing a quilt--all leave me feeling like Rocky at the top of those steps. Those are all things that, unlike dishes, laundry and cutting the grass, actually stay done.

I can fiddle with words forever. Switch a period to a comma in the morning, then switch it back at night. Gaahhhh! I think part of me is scared to snip the cord. (Maybe that's why I carried my last kid an extra 27 days?) I'll come up with excuses not to write if there's a chance I'll actually finish something. Or my motivation will just deflate, and I'll get this urge to jump to some other project.

I did it just yesterday--set down a novella that's 38 000 words in to putter with something else. I'm just praying that I'll arrive at a place soon where they all just kind of finish effortlessly, and I can spend a few months submiting a half-dozen stories.

But I have this feeling that even when something of mine is in print, I'll look at it and say, "Dang, I should have made that comma a period."

December Quinn said...

Welcome, Devon! You know, it's funny--I wrote Blood Will Tell and Prince of Death at basically the same time (although I eventually put Blood aside for a few weeks to finish up Prince) but since then I haven't worked on more than one project at a time. Except editing, of course.

It worked well for me, but for some reason something inside me ust always thinks it's not a good idea. I wonder why? When it works so well for so many people and actually worked for me, and both of those projects sold?

Hmmm. Maybe I should try this again.

Thanks for the thought, and the comment!

December Quinn said...

Lol, lbl. See, when I pick up one of my books to start editing, I'm surprised at how good it is. Then after I've done editing I know intellectually it's stronger but nitpicking all its flaws makes me think it isn't.

Poetry I can't write at all. I've written some amusing limericks on occasion when I was bored. That's about it.

December Quinn said...

Ooh, I know what you mean, kis. I've knitted a baby blanket and re-tiled a floor, refinished cabinets and countertops, painted always makes me feel like I'm actually participating in life and not just watching it go by.

But writing never feels done. I'm the same way. I'm still editing in my head books that have been released, and thinking of ways I could have made them stronger. I always feel like I could have done a better job, I should have done this or that...sigh.

Bernita said...

I can't put a work away until a new idea shakes me with excitement.
Then the old one strikes me as crap.Maybe it's the excitement, the possibilities I hope will unfold, and those have worn off the previous work.

December Quinn said...

Oh, Bernita, I'm so glad I'm not the only one. You just expressed exactly how I feel.

Anonymous said...

I'm never done. It's always there in the back of my mind festering.

On the other hand though I'm also perpetually starting things, which is a nice distraction from the oozing...

BernardL said...

Starting a new manuscript while editing a finished one always relieves some of the grind for me. I don’t miss the last project; because whether it gets picked up by a real publisher, or is doomed to a POD existence, it will still have to be gone over at regular intervals. If our old works are not read with some frequency, we can find ourselves becoming virtual clich├ęs. :)

December Quinn said...

I do know what you mean, Jenn. Fester is a good word for it, too, although I think I may have cracked an issue with my making-the-rounds-book last night. Going to think about that.

Very true, Bernardl. I do try to re-read my old books once a year/18 months or so, to make sure I'm not going over old ground. I do miss those projects though!