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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All's Well That Ends Well

by Anna Campbell

Well, at least I hope that's the case. Shakespeare surely can't be wrong, can he? And please don't answer that!

Last week, I turned in the manuscript of my newest Regency noir to my editor at Avon. After a year of hard work and concentration and heartache and struggle, the manuscript was finally ready to leave my hot little hands and face the world. Those characters who have lived inside my head and driven me mad with their demands for a year - and all the time before that while they worked out what their story would be - have moved out of the house and found an apartment in New York. Those heart-wrenching dilemmas that have occupied me almost nonstop for the whole writing period are no longer quite so urgent.

I'm always in a funny mood when I turn a book in. I don't get great surges of happy achievement. There's no particular euphoria. It's a bit like I've had something amputated, actually. Not that I ever have. But something that's been an essential part of me is suddenly...not there any more. It's a very odd sensation. I'm always dead tired and a bit on edge and unsettled. Nothing seems quite right for a while. It's like I'm caught balancing between two chairs somehow.

I don't have children, but it's a bit like the kids have moved out of home, I suspect. Although that analogy doesn't completely work as I know new tenants will move into the space in my head that Gideon and Charis (the hero and heroine of the finished manuscript) have occupied and will be the focus of the same intense emotion as their predecessors. And then the whole consuming process will start again. So in a year, I'll be back in this situation again. Having now handed in four books for publication, I've learned this is the pattern.

As yet there's no title for the finished story. Well, there's a title but I suspect it will change before too long. As yet, there's no cover art - the picture at the top of this blog is the gorgeous cover for my January 2009 release TEMPT THE DEVIL. I thought it was worth at least another look!

So, fellow writers, I'd love to know how you are when you finish a book. Are you dancing around and drinking champagne? I always thought that's what writers did! They always do in the movies! I'd love to know at least some of you party when you finish a book. Fellow readers, have you recently completed a major task? Did you stop to pat yourself on the back? I hope you did! Perhaps we can pat you on the back now!

19 comments:

Margaret McDonagh said...

Anna, with a deadline looming ever closer and panic sliding into hysteria, "all's well that ends well" is a state I hope to be in sooner rather than later!

Finishing a book usually brings three main emotions, relief, fear and sorrow. Relief that I have actually done it. Fear while I wait to hear if my editor likes it. And sorrow and saying goodbye to characters I have come to love and with whom I have shared so much for the last 3 months.

The saying goodbye part is slightly less sad because it isn't totally final. Because I write loosely linked stories, people pop up now and again as colleagues and friends, so I get to catch up on their lives, but it's not quite the same as actually being in their heads - and them in mine - for such an intense period of change and drama in their lives.

By the way, I am dead envious of your Nathan Kamp cover!!

Love,
Mags

Michelle Styles said...

Finishing a book means that I have to cope with the mountains of cleaning that have piled up. Generally after a few days, I start feeling restless and start on the next one. The things I do to avoid cleaning...
I tend to save the champagne for the acceptance call/email because then I know the characters no longer truly belong to me.
And one of my favourite bits is when I can welcome them back as a finished book...

Margay said...

I usually fall back against my chair with a sigh of relief or maybe even pump my hands in the air with a "yes!" - until I realize that I still have to edit. After that's done, then I do my happy dance...but maybe only in my head. ;)

Jennie Lucas said...

Hi Anna! Fun question.

I always think that when I'm done with a book, I'll be able to finally relax and be so happy, etc. etc. Instead, I always feel kind of like you--on edge, nervous, jittery. I'm only now learning (on book 7) that the true joy is actually in the process, when I'm tinkering with a scene that's working, rather than in reaching the finish line. In fact, I actually get cranky, depressed and listless between books. Like Margaret, I like to be lost in my stories!

Like Michelle, when I'm done I am forced to face the piles of things I've avoided--dentist visits, bills, paperwork, mess. One of the most pleasurable things about being on deadline is that I have an excuse not to do that stuff!

Finishing the first draft, though, my reaction is a lot like Margay's. I'm happy. I know there's lots of work to be done, but I'm still filled up with this story, but feel--aaaahhhh! I made it this far, and I know I can do the rest. And polishing stories, adding subplots and playing with language, is the funnest part IMO!

Pat Cochran said...

Ms. Anna,

I'm a reader who does a lot of volunteer work. I just completed
a publicity campaign for our church's biggest fundraising project of the year. Our annual Fall Festival was held this past Sunday with a great community and parish response. I am very proud of my work and yes, I have received several "pats" on the back! Our school board has recognized me for 25 years of my volunteer response
to their call. I received the
first volunteer award at our high
school and the award was named in
my honor. There is more, but I'll
stop here.

Congratulations on completion of
your newest novel. I know it will
be just a wonderful as all the
others!!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Mags, isn't that cover to die for? That's why I thought I'd put it up - to share the joy! Sounds like you go through a similar process to mine when you finish. It's an emotional rollercoaster, isn't it? As you say, at least you get to revisit characters and find out what's happened in the interim. I did that with TEMPT THE DEVIL. The hero and heroine of CLAIMING THE COURTESAN turn up at the end to play a small but crucial part in the story. It was fun finding out how Verity and Kylemore were!

Anna Campbell said...

Michelle, you're right - the best bit is welcoming the story back into your home as a REAL book. That's actually when I feel like celebrating. I'm currently coping with all the million and one things that have piled up while I've been on deadline.

Margay, I actually think I'm happier when I finish a first draft than when I finish the final edit. I love the editing process - it's when I can shape and polish everything whereas first drafts aren't much fun!

Anna Campbell said...

Jennie, I think we're both victims to the writing mythology that's out there! You know, like you should drink whiskey and screw up vast numbers of pages when you write. I've seen that so many times on TV and believe me, if I drank when I wrote, I wouldn't be doing much writing! And the mythology is that writers dance around screaming with joy when they finish a book. Glad to hear I'm not as odd in my strange, edgy reaction as I thought I was! The fun bits of writing are before you start a book when anything's possible, starting a book, and getting the finished product. And as you say, those odd, erratic moments in between when suddenly everything falls into place and you know you're in the zone.

Anna Campbell said...

Hello, Miss Pat! I'm not surprised Pat gets pats! Congratulations on your fundraising projects and your awards! Thanks for the congrats. There's something satisfying in finishing a big project, isn't there?

Maureen said...

Hi Anna,
We are in the middle of renovating our family room and I will be so happy when it's done except that I already have a bunch of other projects that need to be done.

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Maureen, I hear you! I can't tell you how tired I am when I finish a book - which probably contributes to my general jumpiness and crankiness. But while I'm on deadline, the world continues turning and I'm now trying to do all the things that piled up while I was in my writing cave. It's like renovations - there's always something new to do! Good luck with the family room!

Jane said...

Hi Anna,
I know I'm repeating myself but I love your new stepback cover. I haven't completed a major task recently, but I do believe in rewarding myself whenever I feel stressed. A little bit of chocolate and some pampering does the mind and body good.

Anne Gracie said...

Congratulations on getting that fourth baby out, Anna.
I agree, it's a weird feeling. I'm usually exhausted and edgy and the last thing I want to do is cavort. Though I will have a drink. (There are scottish distillery workers who need jobs, you know ;) )

Almost the moment I send a book off, I get this feeling of impending doom, so naturally I think it's the universe telling me I just sent off a book with something hugely wrong with it that I've missed.

But really it's the mountain of things I've put off until after the book is in, looming gloomily and with intent. Tipping housework, garden work, piled up paperwork, all the talks and blogs I said I'd do after the book is in, in my direction . An avalanche.

But in the middle of that Mountain of Doom is a pile of books I've been waiting to read, and that's my reward.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Jane! I don't mind you saying you like my cover again at all! You feel free to say it any time you like ;-) Actually a little treat does make a difference, doesn't it? And chocolate is NEVER out of style!

Anne, lovely to see you here. You know HIS CAPTIVE LADY is next on the TBR pile, don't you? I've heard such fantastic things about it. Actually I usually have a drink too. In this case, it was a nice muscat. I too rewarded myself with a couple of good books. First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips which I thoroughly enjoyed and the new Laura Lee Guhrke, Secret Desires of a Gentleman, which I thought was such good fun. Sadly, also like you, I have a thousand things waiting for attention too! I wish the housework fairy would visit and wave her wand!

PJ said...

Congrats, Anna! I surely do love that cover and am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the book on the store shelves.

Jennifer Y. said...

I recently completed a read-a-thon fundraiser and was very proud of myself for reaching both my reading and fundraising goals. Since I stink at fundraising, that one was a biggie for me.

I didn't really reward myself with anything, but I was just happy to have met (and surpassed) my goals.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, PJ, great to see you here! Yeah, that cover's droolworthy, isn't it? Be interesting to see what they come up with for the new book. So far, the cover gods have definitely been smiling. 30th December seems such a long way away, though, until Tempt the Devil is out.

Actually, speaking of TEMPT THE DEVIL, on 9th October, I'm blogging on the Romance Bandits http://romancebandits.blogspot.com and I'm giving away an advance reader copy of TTD.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jennifer, a readathon sounds like something I could do to raise money! Walking for 10 miles sure ain't! Congratulations on doing such a great job with that! And thanks for dropping by!

Michele L. said...

My biggest accomplishment was finishing my Bachelor's degree in Construction. What a long road to hoe! Whew!

Next to that was my marrying my sweetheart, Al! What a treasure he is!

All my best on finishing your book! Woohoo! That is a fantastic accomplishment!

Big glasses of champagne and lobster for everyone!

Michele L.