Only two chapters left in this revision of Perceval’s Secret. One is longer than the other, both need tightening. So far I’ve cut 37 pages and about 10,000 words. I’d hoped to cut about 14,000 words, so I’ll return to the first half and go through it with an editor’s nit comb. My cutting really hit its stride during the second half. Once the revision is done, I need to complete the front pages and the back pages that include table of contents, copyright page, author’s note, acknowledgements, bio and a book club discussion guide. But I’m quite pleased with the way this work is progressing.
I’m also experiencing a reticence toward the work, sort of like pumping the brakes or digging in the heels. Every time I’ve done a complete revision, I’ve experienced this. Plus a sorrow, and not wanting it to end. Even though I know it’s not “the end,” it’s never really “the end,” it’s still an end. I love the work of revision, love to improve the writing so that the story will shine. But I have yet to figure out how to deal with this strange emotional funk.
In the past, my strategy for dealing with the emotions was to just power through the work, finish the draft, and tell myself that I’m proud and relieved to have it done. Suppressing those emotions didn’t actually deal with them, and they returned even more powerfully the next time I approached the end of a writing project. It could be anything — an essay, a personal letter, a business letter, a blog post. I learned my lesson. It’s better to face the emotions of an end rather than stuff them.
More recently, as I’ve approached the end of a draft, I’ve made certain that another project was waiting for my attention immediately. Even this time, I am gearing up to work on Perceval’s Shadow, the second novel in the series, to revise the first draft. But I think that will need to wait until I have the larger e-publication project done and the marketing campaign launched.
Writing business work triggers its own special kind of emotional response. Usually negative.
But right now, today, I’m grappling with this crazy hodge-podge of feelings connected to being so close to the end of this draft of Perceval’s Secret. Writing about it has only intensified the emotions. They like attention, I see. They make it easier for me to procrastinate, write other things — like a blog post — go to a movie, read. It’s hard facing an end, even with all the positive aspects of it.
First of all, finishing the revisions means that I’ve completed the draft. Done. I have a novel. Second, it feels good to complete something, to look back at the surprising moments, the deeply satisfying moments, and know once again that I am a writer. Third, it means that it’s that much closer to being read by others, especially this time, as I’ve been preparing it for e-publication. Fourth, I’ve learned so much more about the characters through this revision, and grown as a writer. And last, I know that I’ll spend more time with the characters in the second book in the series (and the third, fourth, and fifth books).
I’m not sure what else I can do with these emotions. They are there. I acknowledge them. Some days, they’re painful. But perhaps they are a measure of my commitment to the novel and my writing….