Last week, I had the giddy pleasure of typing "the end" on my current manuscript.
Well, that's not exactly what I typed.
This particular ending was a long time coming, and I'm too exhausted now to point out that I just wrote "coming."
I haven't addressed this on the blog yet, but those of you paying close attention may have noticed the third book in my romantic comedy contract hasn't hit shelves yet. Though my publisher had initially slated the release for August 2012 and I completed the manuscript in plenty of time, they suggested it wasn't the right third book for my career. I was given the option to release it anyway, or to start from scratch with a brand new book and a different release date.
My gut and my brain had differing opinions about the best course of action, and they wrestled long and hard in a pit of cherry Jello while wearing sequined g-strings and nipple tassels.
Which is how I ended up writing a new manuscript from scratch, and how I ended up sitting at my desk last week staring at those words through a blur of happy/sad tears.
Once upon a time, I thought a book deal might magically transform me into the sort of writer who'd reach the final line of a manuscript, type "the end," and immediately hand a spotless draft over to my gleeful editor. This fantasy may have also involved several male strippers and a wine dispenser mounted beside my desk, but let's not dwell.
The biggest lesson I've learned since I first accepted this three-book deal in February 2010 is that my fantasy couldn't have been more off-base if I'd thrown in a gang of monkeys clanging celebratory cymbals.
Which, come to think of it, would be pretty cool.
But that isn't reality, and I know now that typing "the end" is only the beginning. I still have an absurd amount of editing to do before I'd even consider letting anyone outside a mental institution have a look at this manuscript. After that, I'll hand it off to my three critique partners who will lovingly tear it to shreds. Once I've implemented their changes, the manuscript will go to my three longtime beta readers, who will point out all the ways my heroine is unsympathetic, my hero is a sniveling weasel, and the fact that my unclear pronoun usage makes it sound like the heroine is licking her own neck. After their changes are made, the manuscript goes to my agent for another round of feedback and polishing before she submits it to my editor.
And after all that, I know it's entirely possible my editor will say, "meh...it's not the right book for your career now."
I don't know what's going to happen, but I do know I can't let myself dwell on that.
I can choose to panic over the flogging my draft will take in the coming weeks, and the fact that it might be all for naught. Or I can choose to take this one step at a time, slow and steady, and to allow myself to celebrate milestones like typing "the end" without rolling my eyes and muttering, "far from it."
For the writers among you, how far is "the end" from "THE END?" For non-writers, what are some of the biggest lessons you've learned along the way in your chosen career path. Please share!
I have to see a man about a monkey.