Life has its calm seasons and busy seasons, times when I can work at my leisure and actually enjoy what I do, and times when I’m forced to labor long into the night, fretting and worrying and racing to finish on time. Right now I’m in one of those crunch times. That’s because I’m within a few pages of finishing my newest novel and typing “The End.”
By now I know my characters and my plot very well. I know what my imaginary people were like in the beginning of the story and where I hoped they would end up. I’ve never piloted a jetliner but that’s what it feels like I’m doing in these final stages. I’ve been soaring high with great flights of imagination but now it’s time to land. I need to make sure all the plots and sub-plots are lined up correctly so I can touch down on solid ground and bring this enormous undertaking to a halt. If you’ve ever flown, I’m sure you remember how it feels to reach the airport terminal after a LONG journey, unbuckle your seatbelt, stand up straight, and give a sigh of relief that you’re finally home. That’s what it’s like when I type those wonderful words, “The End.”
If I can land this novel within the next few days, I will have about a month remaining before my deadline. I’ll use that time to do a final read-through and another edit, tying up any loose ends and searching for ways to make the story even better. I can ask important questions like: Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Are my readers going to be drawn into the story and stay interested? Are they going to feel satisfied when they get to the end? … And how many tissues are they going to need? (I absolutely LOVE to read a book that makes me cry, don’t you?)
But to me, the most important part of this newly-finished novel is its spiritual content. Yes, I want to entertain my readers, but if my story doesn’t also give them a new insight, or help them through their own life journey, or remind them how very much God loves them, then my work is incomplete. I’ll be praying about this aspect of my novel too, as I read through it.
Once I turn in this book to my editor, I’m going to reward myself with a trip to Florida. That’s the carrot at the end of the stick I’m currently using to flog myself to finish. I have a wonderful vacation planned with my husband and our dearest friends. It includes lots of fun and laughter and good eating and bicycling. I posted these pictures from a previous trip beside my computer to keep me motivated during these final weeks of work.
So how do you celebrate when all your hard work is finished?