Yesterday, I finished another revision on a novel in progress for the last year or three. I lost count at which revision this is, perhaps the sixth, or probably the twelfth. Whichever it is, I think it is the one that makes the novel complete and ready for the market. This is huge.
There are many markers in the process of writing a novel. Finishing the first draft is a big one, and one to celebrate, but the writer knows there is work to do in revisions. It can be hard to understand what those changes are in the flush of giving birth to this new novel, or the flaws may be glaringly apparent or even overwhelming.
Then there is the hard work of revisions. It can be a rocky trail that makes one doubt the entire idea. For me, there is a point in revisions where I start to fall in love with the novel. It starts to resemble what I envisioned at the concept point.
Finishing a novel, in that I polished it and feel it is ready for readers, is one of the big milestones. It is one that fills me with elation, relief, and a feeling that the world is not quite right. At this point, I have spent months, probably years thinking about these characters. I have carefully built a world filled with vivid scenes and tangible emotions. I have delved into the depths of character consciousness, thinking about why each one did this and that, putting words in their mouths, sometimes destroying their worlds. Plot has been executed.
And then I am done. I write, "the end." I will not be digging into the character's head or motivations tonight. It feels like a loss, like being exiled from the world that no longer needs my hand. I am not sure how to spend my time anymore. I am not sure about my own reality, having spent so much time with my head in two worlds, and suddenly missing the one of my own creation.
I haven't written enough novels to know how long this feeling lasts, but read of plenty of authors who deal with it by reading a lot. I can get down with that. I have been neglecting my "to read" piles of late.