Well, it’s done. A fortnight to spare and I’ve finished.
What an anticlimax.
I suppose I knew it would feel like this, that there would be a lull. I’ve been working so hard, and now what do I do? I feel a bit deflated and lost. I was meant to go for a celebration cocktail but sort of can’t be bothered.
It’s not just that though. I’ve always known that finishing the first draft was only the first part of the journey. It’s probably a third or even a quarter of the work once you’ve taken into account multiple red its or rewrites then all the work of either finding an agent/publisher or self-publishing. Now that the first draft is finished there’s another whole ocean to cross.
But I’m not ready to start on that yet, it needs time to settle. What I’ve written has too much connection and crossover with real life and I can’t yet look at it with the distance required to make the best artistic decisions. Actually I’m not sure that will ever be possible. For me this novel was, more than anything, me proving to myself that I can actually write a book, can get to the end of it. It’s terrible, possibly irredeemable. And I’m kind of ok with that. But I still expected to feel a bit more pride or pleasure at finishing the first draft.
After all, how many people say they’d love to write but never actually get to the end of anything?
I think this is part of the creative cycle. Ending (even temporarily) a project that you’ve been immersed in for any length of time is bound to come with mixed feelings. If this post were about seeing my first book in a shop I’d probably be wailing about how much I hate it and want to take it all back.
Fortunately though, I know that this is just one of those waves of feeling. However flat I feel and however disappointing that is, it’s temporary. Things will look better tomorrow, and in a few days maybe I’ll feel able to give myself a pat on the back. In the meantime, that cocktail is bound to help…