Thursday, April 9, 2015

Born to Run

It was such a nice feeling, typing those two words – “The End.” I don’t think a lot as a writer can top it, in terms of just putting in the work and getting a reward. A few things come close: getting that first box of books, doing a great event, maybe winning an award. But I get a kick out of finishing a first draft, printing it out and holding it in my hand. It exists. It’s real and is a product of my work.
But, like many things, that feeling is fleeting. I know that at some point, I will return to the draft (of Dangerous Ends, the third Pete book, to be specific) and make changes. Lots of them. This draft is just about getting to the finish line. There are plot holes. Character problems and probably lots more. But it’s done and I’ll let it simmer for a while before pulling out my revision toolkit. At some point, I may even let it leave the house and be read by other people.
So, there I am – basking in the glow of a finished draft. Head to pillow, in the quiet moments before falling asleep, I start thinking about the book. How it ends. Where it leaves Pete. What it means for the series. I manage to get to sleep, but not before realizing that I have another book in me with these characters, one I’d set aside while writing #3.
Shit. It never ends. But that's part of the rush, no? The reason we do it, etc?
I’m hesitant to even call it a book – it started as a short story I was working on to avoid writing about Pete. Then I figured it’d be cool to let Pete cameo. Then Pete started interacting and bumping into stuff and well, look, now he’s thrown up in the plant. You get the idea. Characters do what they want, we just let them on stage and chronicle what they do within the constraints of the world we’ve created.
As much as we’d like to plan as writers – whether it’s outlining, plotting our careers or coordinating detours from the things that we see as our “bread and butter,” most of it is out of our control. All we can do is make the time, even during peaks (“I finished my draft!”) and valleys (both writer valleys and real world ones), to put in the work and get better. Oh, yeah - and be kind.
Allow yourself a night off to toast to what you’ve done when you feel you’ve earned it. Then pop open your laptop the next morning. There’s more to be written.