I just finished writing Book 6 in the Bellingwood series and after the first round of edits, it is off to my Beta readers for a couple of weeks. They’ll tear it apart, help me put it back together again and then it will be that much closer to publication.
When I announced that the writing was finished, several friends asked about the rush I felt and it struck me that my feelings might be a little odd. A few moments ago, I realized that my feelings were really strange. Tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t identify their origin. The only thing that’s different right now is that my book is no longer in my hands. It’s gone.
I’ve watched many a friend let her child go to their first overnight sleepover or away to camp or to spend a week with grandparents for the first time. When they are out the door, my friends experience a moment of loss. Up until that point they were the only one (yes, the spouse is part of this) in charge of that child’s welfare. All of a sudden, the thing they treasure most is in the hands of someone else and several things have happened. First, they’ve had to build up a level of trust that everything will be okay and second, they are left wondering what they are to do with those hours that were generally spent interacting with and caring for that child. This sensation doesn’t go away, it’s just filled in with other experiences. Parents also face it when kids leave home for college, to be married or to live on their own for the first time.
Of course it’s the right thing to do, but there’s an empty place that’s exposed for just a moment.
Now … while sending my book off to Beta readers is nothing as extreme as sending a child off to their first overnight, I do feel a sense of trepidation and loss when I let it go. I’ve had to build up a level of trust that my readers will treat it (and me) with respect, even while ripping it to shreds to make a better story. That’s not easy and honestly, I have a lot of problems with that trust. But, they are wonderful people. They are respectful and yet also critical so as to ensure I find success.
The second part is where I land when people ask about the rush I must feel as I finish a book. I don’t actually have empty hours in my life once the written part of the story is complete. There is plenty to do while I wait for the book to come back into my hands. But it’s different and that transition requires that I expend emotional energy.
I will build the cover and write descriptions for Amazon. It occurred to me that I don’t have business cards designed, so I will work on those (20+ years of owning a printshop still pays off) and design bookmarks as well. There are websites that need to be updated with information about Book 6 (goodNESS I need to finish this cover), and I need to continue to get better at social network marketing. At some point, I also have to clean this place up after letting it go while I typed and typed.
I will put together marketing to bring in new readers, so the new book gets a good chance to see daylight. As part of that marketing, I go back through the book I am giving away to do a fresh edit, ensuring that all I’ve learned in the last months regarding writing and editing is translated into making the best book possible.
Because I insist on learning all the time, I read handbooks on editing and style manuals. I research ways to tell stories and discover methods of writing that I didn’t employ the first time out. Because the digital platform is fluid, it allows me to continually make my books better. The story never changes, but the way it is told becomes more even. I’d like to think that I knew it all when I began, but that is just arrogant stupidity. This last year has been a huge learning experience for me and I am a better writer today than I was when I wrote my first book.
When I finally publish this next book and people have it in their hands, I won’t feel a rush then either. Even though it is finally out there for the world, I’m not finished with it. My ‘job’ isn’t done. I celebrate the achievement, but I don’t have time to stop working. I have started plans for short stories. I am in the middle of writing three other books and I am outlining Book 7 and exploring possible plot lines for Book 8.
For tonight, the most pressing assignment is the title and book cover, so I’ve opened Photoshop and it’s time to get back to work. This is the best job ever.