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What happens to you when you complete a novel? (1 Viewer)

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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
That title is so tempting, "Well, first the little blue squares appear on your hands and spread up your arms, gradually turning to pink through silver, then the vibrations start ..." :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Congrats!
What happens after you finish your novel? You celebrate your new-found success. Also. Congratulations.
Thank you both! Although I feel a bit guilty accepting congratulations as I'm not technically complete yet. I still have one chapter to go. However, I think writing it will feel like a reward. Or like having a Courvoisier after dinner. :)
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I finished my first novel about ten years ago, so I don't recall my exact feelings (though I suspect I was happy). However, I wrapped up the first draft of my second novel earlier this year, and in that case, I just felt satisfaction and relief. I had planned things well enough that I wasn't worried about plot holes or shallow characters, though I still knew at least one more pass would be required to catch anything I missed in terms of pacing, etc.

But overall, I was just happy to be done with the thing. Writing is fine, but I have no love for the process itself; the appeal is reading and enjoying what I've written afterward. And of course, now that the project is finished, it's on to the next idea!
Congratulations on both your novels! Although I'm wondering why you don't enjoy the process. But it is nice to hear that you like what you've written. I don't understand people who are critical of their own work, to the point they don't enjoy reading it. Good luck with the next project!!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I'm right there with you. What many people think of as "art" is really just the end result of LOT of time and work refining the craft. The David isn't a masterpiece because of its "raw artistry," but because the sculptor knew exactly the pose he wanted, the emotions he wanted, and so on. He came in with a plan and the talent to bring that plan to life.

Writing is the same way. Raw intention is sloppy intention, and the sort of person that can naturally produce a great novel on their first go is the one who has already written twenty others, not the beginner with more enthusiasm than talent.

When I speak of raw intention, to me, that is the impetus of every creative work. And I believe that can be lost with over-refinement. I suspect this argument could get into semantics, but I'll try to clarify my position. Unfortunately, I don't have a writing example, because I haven't been doing this long enough. And perhaps you will tell me there is no comparison to this form of creation. But here is my attempt to explain:

When I was a director of product development at a fashion company, the common practice was to send all the designers around the world to get inspiration and new raw materials. After they returned, we spent a few months producing samples. Typically, they were fresh, original, and echoed what the designers intended. Then, the editing process would begin. Executives and salespeople would eliminate, add, change and supposedly bring the collection up to what they believed was saleable. And in the end, it always just looked a little flat to me and we would have lost many beautiful features. Why? I could never figure it out. I used to say we started with perfection and slowly destroyed it.

Now, we also reworked every garment to make sure it fit properly and would go through production well, so that may be more comparable to the refining of craft that you speak of. But, the original inspiration is the part I'm talking about when I say "raw intention." If you tell me this is completely different for writing, then I will be relieved, get on with my editing, and not worry about it...lol!
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
And then there's all this other stuff I'm feeling which I can't really explain other than using unimaginative words -- my heart is racing and I feel light-headed.

Is this normal? What are the types of things you think, or feel when you get to the end of your novel?
I usually feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders when I finish a novel. Of course there's the feelings of elation, but mostly I feel the release of a task I needed to completed being finally done.

Then after those initially feelings, I remember I have to do edits, formatting, possibly querying and the whole business of writing that requires so much time and energy. This is then compounded by the thoughts of the next novel that itching to get out.
 

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
What happens after you finish your novel?

The temptation is to say that one is surrounded by doves and pretty-coloured lights then goes through a process of transfiguration and rapture, but of the few people I personally know who have completed novels, it's been more about sitting for lonely hours in bookshops in hope of promoting the book, attending writing groups to read extracts and give reasonably well-paid talks, and tolerating creeps like me who try to extract information from them whilst thinking they haven't noticed.
I do know one person who makes a reasonably okay full-time income from writing, but much of the work is at the behest of an education authority, so she is restricted in what she writes. That wouldn't be right for me.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
When I speak of raw intention, to me, that is the impetus of every creative work. And I believe that can be lost with over-refinement. I suspect this argument could get into semantics, but I'll try to clarify my position. Unfortunately, I don't have a writing example, because I haven't been doing this long enough. And perhaps you will tell me there is no comparison to this form of creation. But here is my attempt to explain:

When I was a director of product development at a fashion company, the common practice was to send all the designers around the world to get inspiration and new raw materials. After they returned, we spent a few months producing samples. Typically, they were fresh, original, and echoed what the designers intended. Then, the editing process would begin. Executives and salespeople would eliminate, add, change and supposedly bring the collection up to what they believed was saleable. And in the end, it always just looked a little flat to me and we would have lost many beautiful features. Why? I could never figure it out. I used to say we started with perfection and slowly destroyed it.

Now, we also reworked every garment to make sure it fit properly and would go through production well, so that may be more comparable to the refining of craft that you speak of. But, the original inspiration is the part I'm talking about when I say "raw intention." If you tell me this is completely different for writing, then I will be relieved, get on with my editing, and not worry about it...lol!
I think it’s very different. It seems like most writers believe the editing stage is crucial. Neil Gaiman said the second draft is where you convince everyone that you knew what you were doing all along. I think each person has a different process, but I think authors commonly think the editing greatly improves their work.

The man who said he couldn’t read my draft...his first draft was really dull and hard to understand. It even seemed to lack any message. This author talked non-stop about the importance of message. I read his first, second and final drafts and good magic happened in between each one. At the end it was a pleasure to read and he had pulled the whole story together to have a subtle but powerful meaning.

For mine, I wish I could do one more draft now to make it sparkle and punch it up just a little bit more. I know it’s much much better than my first draft.

Maya Angelo would keep a poem for months punching it up for hours at a time until she felt like every word stood out. I heard her once talking about her process. From mediocre to magnificent, basically.

You’re going to get skills in editing from doing it, but one of the videos I saw on dialogue was helpful to me and I started to find a lot of joy/satisfaction in working on my dialogue to punch it up. This video (below) gave good examples. I applied his method of cutting everything down.

When you can see the whole story laid out then I think it gives you more perspective to know what it needs. Yours might need more touch ups or something rather than cuts. But you will be making these decisions, not someone else. If people give you feedback, you can ignore their advice or think of something better, but I don’t think I’ve heard once on this forum or others that writers regretted their editing process. And the thing is.. you can always keep a first draft before the editing begins. So not as scary as cutting cloth. :)

 

Gamer_2k4

WF Veterans
Now, we also reworked every garment to make sure it fit properly and would go through production well, so that may be more comparable to the refining of craft that you speak of. But, the original inspiration is the part I'm talking about when I say "raw intention." If you tell me this is completely different for writing, then I will be relieved, get on with my editing, and not worry about it...lol!

This may very well happen to published novels; I've never gotten that far myself. To make something appeal to the masses, you usually have to slice out what makes something unique or special. But for our own editing, I feel we can make plenty of improvements to a rough draft without harming the original vision.

Congratulations on both your novels! Although I'm wondering why you don't enjoy the process. But it is nice to hear that you like what you've written. I don't understand people who are critical of their own work, to the point they don't enjoy reading it. Good luck with the next project!!

Sometimes things are just bad in our own minds. The "published writer" medal you see under my avatar came because some important person here liked some flash fiction I had posted to the forums and included it in some newsletter or compilation. I personally think it's the worst thing I've ever publicly shared, and I've never read it again since posting it here. But of course, plenty of my writing that I think is great is viewed by others as average or even bad, so it goes both ways.

As for not enjoying the process, I think it's just that it's hard. It's work. I've got excellent grammar and a decent sense of rhetorical devices, but being creative and interesting and not repetitive is constantly a struggle. And when I'm done with a chapter or section or even a full story, there's always the lingering sense that despite all the effort I've put into it, it's going to need a lot more work before it's ready for publication. My first novel is on its fourth draft. My second novel is in the preliminary stages of its second draft. There's always more work to be done, it's never going to be perfect, and there's that inescapable sense that no matter how much time I spend on it and how good I personally think it is, it's going to meet the exact same fate as thousands of other novels way worse than mine (and plenty way better, of course).

I'm always glad that I do write. I enjoy what I've accomplished. But I enjoy it because it's been accomplished, in the same way I'm much happier about having yardwork finished than I am about actually doing the yardwork.
 
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