Monday, March 16, 2009

Thoughts on finishing a book

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.


Devon Ellington said...

If the characters pull you and you want to write more, you write more. If it means selling it elsewhere, that's what you do.

I understand that sense of loss -- I always feel that at the end of the book, even mixed with joy and relief.

Look, if everything I write eventually finds a home -- everything you write and WANT TO WRITE will do the same -- your track record is a heck of a lot more impressive than mine.

If these characters and stories are so ingrained in you, you write the book, in and around other contracts.

Of course, I truly believe the series will sell enough so the contracts will continue and you'll get to write them sooner rather than later -- but you will get to write them.

I hope you feel better after a good night's sleep. You've got a lot of people who believe in you and your work.

December/Stacia said...

...I don't even know what to say, Devon. Thank you so much. You have no idea what your comment just did to me.

I feel blessed.

I know, you're right. There is always a chance the book can go elsewhere; there is always the option of, heck, writing the things and making them free downloads. And it's something I've never been averse to doing if it came down to it. I hope it won't, because I like to be in bookstores and whatever, but I know the option is there; or at least, now I remember the option is there.

And yeah, I actually have the new project to finish, and the third Demons book to write (I'll be making an announcement about that shortly) and after that I figured I'd start the fourth Downside book. At the very least I'd like to be ahead of the game if they do want more. And I'm feeling a bit more optimistic about that possibility this morning, as I knew I would.

But it's such a scary world, isn't it?

Thank you so much.

Charles Gramlich said...

I well remember the feeling of loss that accompanies the end of a book. After Cold in the Light I was completely written out for a couple of months it seemed. And though it wasn't as bad for the Talera books, mainly because it was planned as a series, I still felt that sinking feeling when I put down the end.

Brooke Reviews said...

Devon said a many great things in their comment, and I agree with it all!

Also, if I have any say in this you're books will sell marvelously! I'll make sure of it. :) At least, I'll do my part on my blog.

laughingwolf said...

dee, you can still write these characters in other stories, even if they end up in a drawer for a while

but then, they may take time away from those that will bring in money?

no matter, you'll find a way to keep em going...

kirsten saell said...

Hugs, D.

I can't say I'm ever depressed when I type "the end" on a book (mostly just relieved), but I have bawled my eyes out when I've had to kill off characters I love and I realize they're gone forever.

And when people ask me why my eyes are all puffy, well, I'm not really sure they'd understand if I tell them I'm in mourning for a figment of my own imagination.

And just so you know, punk-rock ghetto no-hopers sounds like just my thing. :)

December/Stacia said...

It's funny, isn't it, Charles? We should be proud and happy but instead we mope. :-) But then again, I feel that way when I come to the end when reading a book I love, as well, so I guess it's just a natural reaction either way.

Oh, thank you, Brooke! That's really nice of you, I do hope you like the book!

And that's the big fear, LW. That if they don't sell more, writing them will be kind of pointless or I won't have time. I love all my characters and even the books I've written that aren't my favorites are books I'm fond of, but this one was and is so close to me. Sigh. I guess we just hope. :-)

Thanks, kis. Oh, killing characters...I confess I haven't done it. Two characters have gotten last-minute repreives. My problem, I think, is that my worlds tend to be so small. But I do know somebody's going to die in the next book; a minor character but an important one, which will add tons of complications to the ones already there.
Lol, no, they probably wouldn't understand. Sigh.
Thanks! :-)

Devon Ellington said...

The Doubt Demons always attack when we're the most vulnerable. That's why being around others who support our work is so important.

Hang in there, you've got us as your safety net.

Anonymous said...

Remember the first time you "put pen to paper" and started writing? How did you feel? Why did you do it? Just remember what writing does FOR you not TO you. -V95

December/Stacia said...

Thanks Devon, and thanks V95. I'm feeling better now. :-) All I can do is move on and keep hoping! I think the three books in the series so far are really good, really strong books--the best I've written--so no matter what I can always be proud of them.

(But I still hope I get to write more! Hee.)

laughingwolf said...

they will never die... they are your creations and will keep on truckin, regardless :)