Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Total and Complete Euphoria...

...or, What It's Like to Finish a Novel.

Best-selling novelist, Judith McNaught, made a comment like this once- and please bear in mind I am very loosely paraphrasing: Writing a novel is a very hard process and finishing is total bliss. She (McNaught) celebrates each finish and eventually begins on the next book, but only when she absolutely has to.

Now, I've read McNaught for years and find them very satisfying romance novels. (If you decide to try them, be ready to skim a few pages here and there. I'm just saying.) The hero grovels nicely at the end, the happy ending is guaranteed, all things told, I leave her books in a happy place. But I can kind of relate to her feelings about writing.

It's hard.

I know, wah, cry me a river. I'm published, which is a blessing I don't EVER take for granted. I'm doing something I love-except sometimes I don't love it so much. I just finished writing my sequel to Isabelle Webb, Legend of the Jewel, and I'm so glad to have it done. I went through a bit of a bad patch with some writer's block (really, I was allowing too many other things to interfere with the writing, but I'm going to call it writer's block) and the book is well over a year late.

It weighed heavily on me all year. It was this thing hovering over my shoulder that would never leave me alone. A burden that grew increasingly heavier each day. There are a few elements that combined to kick my rear end back in gear, but truthfully, I consider the finishing of this book to be directly attributable to my friendship with Josi Kilpack. If she, Becki Clayson, Jody Durfee and Ronda Hinrichsen hadn't been gracious enough to allow me to join their writing group, I think I would still be looking for the motivation to finish.

I spent several late nights in Josi's husband's office doing writing marathons with Josi and counting my lucky stars that I could work with someone who knows how nice it is to have the companionship while hammering away at a plot and characters that don't always fall into line. Not all writers are solitary--this has been one of my biggest challenges with this career. It's a very solitary pursuit, and for people who like to yak, this can be especially challenging.

So yes, I am currently over the moon with euphoria. I don't know what the evals will say, I'm not sure what my editor will want me to change, I don't know if anyone will even like it at all--but it's finished. I can't begin to tell you what a relief it is.

Unlike Judith McNaught, I don't dread beginning a new project. This, other than finishing, is my favorite part of the process. I love to brainstorm and research. At this point, the book is still perfect. It's a prize-winner in my mind- it hasn't yet been cluttered up with my imperfections. It will be the book that the world will embrace and say, "WHERE has this book been all of my life?" But until it's on the page, it's just a pipe dream, so I have to try to pull it out of my head in a way that will make sense.

When I was a kid, had someone told me I'd one day be a writer I would have passed out with joy. (I suppose that means I was a nerd. Probably means I'm still a nerd.) So the fact that I'm doing this really, truly does make me happy. The times when it's hard, I remind myself something Stephen King says in his book On Writing: "The worst three hours I ever spent there were still pretty damn good."

All things told- it really is true.


Chantele said...

Yay! I'm so excited! I've been wondering if you were doing a sequel to Isabelle Webb! Congrats on getting it done, and I look forward to seeing it published!:)

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Thank you so much, Chantele! That makes my day. :-)

Karlene said...

I've done the "writing with a friend but mostly ignoring each other" thing before. (There's got to ge a word for that.) It really helps me too.

So glad about the sequel. :)

Kath said...

That is awesome news, congrats! I can't wait for it to be published, I've been anxious for a sequel!!

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

Kath, thank you! I'm glad to have it done. :-)

Karlene, there's a stage in toddler play where they play side by side but don't interact. It's called "parallel play." I think we should call the writing thing "Parallel Writing." :-)

Kriste said...

Yeah!! I have been thinking about when you would finish your sequel--I want to be the first one to buy it. When and where?

Nancy Campbell Allen said...

I don't know yet, Kriste, but I will post the release info as soon as I get it. Thanks!! :-)