So I finished my book.
A few years ago, I said the same exact thing. And it was true at the time. I had finished my book. And then I went back to work on it. It’s completely different now. It’s shorter, more streamlined. It’s better. And, I think, in all the ways that matter most, it is done. I started trimming my word count a while ago. It’s a tedious process, and one that’s still ongoing. If I were to continue that, then I guess it’s not finished. But it’s done.
Why am I repeating myself? I think it’s because I’m a little scared about what comes next. What comes next? I’m not sure. I mean, I know most of what I’m supposed to do. Shop it around to agents and publishers, shop ’til I drop. Start working on the next thing, be it a script or another book. I’ve been dragging my heels with a few other projects in my mad rush to get this done. So it’s not fear from not knowing what to do. Not exactly. Maybe a little.
I’ve spent years developing, writing, carrying this story from start to finish, after numerous edits and beta-reads. And my writer’s group. Aside from the word trim, I am done making cuts, adding stuff, reshuffling scenes. It really is time to send out query letters.
I think I’m scared that, in a way, this chapter of my life is coming to a close. My journey with the book isn’t over, no. There’s still the oh-so-wonderful adventure of trying to sell it to someone. But the brainstorming, the fixing, the discussing problems and such, it’s over. It’s time to move on to the next thing. I used to know what the next book would be about. I don’t know anymore. That scares me. The query letter stuff scares me. The unknown kinda scares me.
Maybe so much that I ended up freaking myself out with questions about the validity of my book! Maybe it’s not done! Maybe it’s the wrong book! I even entertained the notion of giving up the goal of becoming a writer. (The fact that one of my best friends and I argued about whether I could, in fact, call myself a writer didn’t help things. Whatever, that’s for a different day.)
This book has consumed most of my waking hours for the last four years. I stayed up into the wee hours working on it. I spent most of my time at work (whatever job I had) thinking about it and jotting down the occasional note. It was sort of like being in a relationship.
Another friend wondered if I was afraid of success. I’d heard of this. I’d learned about it in undergrad. It didn’t make sense to me, and it’s not like finishing the book was the success I was really after. But it felt true. I guess it’s not so rare. I’m hesitant to take another step. I have a decent query letter. I’ve gotten some good feedback on it. I feel good about it. Research is something I’m pretty good at, too. I don’t know. It’s just… I don’t know.
Fear can get in the way of a lot of things. It can get in the way of living. Turns out I’m afraid of a lot of things, and none of them were things I expected to ever fear.
Maybe I need a few days. Maybe even a week. To detox. Take a break from writing. Recharge and get reinvested. I hope that’ll do it. Because fear or not, I am ready.