I’ve been working on this novel for at least two years. Probably longer.
I should feel elated, but I feel strangely empty instead.
For one thing, I don’t really know if it is The End. I’ll have to reread the story (again!) to see if it has come full circle. Have I reached the place I was aiming for since page one? I don’t know. Is that because I’ve been with this story for so long that I’ve lost perspective? Perhaps.
Or perhaps I feel sad at the prospect of saying goodbye to these characters, who aren’t actually characters to me. They are real people. After all, I have been living with them for a couple of years now. It’s hard to leave old friends, people you’ve been with every day, wrestling with them, finding their flaws, discovering their strengths, observing their growth.
I recently heard a writer friend use the term Premature Submission. It refers to the temptation to send the manuscript to the publisher too soon, before it’s been put aside for a few weeks and then looked at with fresh eyes. This is an important step in the writing process. Problems with a story become much clearer when the writer has stepped away from it for a while. One can hope that the story will begin to age like fine wine, but more likely the writer will see the rough edges, the clutter, themes that are incomplete, connections that weren’t made.
This isn’t really The End at all. It is the beginning of a whole new stage in the writing process.