Well THAT novel is done…now what?
Readers learn about writers’ habits from snips from book jackets or movies, that’s what I used to think. I suppose that was before the Internet and major stalking could occur. If the phrase, “I used to wonder what people really thought, then I got FACEBOOK and now, I wish I hadn’t” ought to be commonplace. Not that it’s bad to hear what folks are thinking, it just might make one wonder a bit. However, it can inspire other things to greater heights. More than once I have been asked if I have a ritual I perform after I finish a novel. This was spawned by James Caan in the MISERY film (and the writer in the book) drinking Dom PER-IG-NON and smoking a cigarette after he finished a book.
While many silly fibs could be spun about blood rituals, chocolate baths and midget orgies, all would be more exciting than what usually happens: I do feel an awesome rush, that warm glow of victory and an edgy fear of possible writer’s block on the horizon. There are a few that know exactly what I’m doing and I tell them privately before talking online. I used to buy an expensive cigar and smoke it while I drank too much beer, but not on the day I got it done. It used to be a more secretive thing when I completed a draft or pronounced this one killed, but now I blurt it out on FACEBOOK, then drink some beer. I do like sharing such a thing with friends. Before, who cared but me? My kids think it’s cool. Now, I let the folks know who might buy it that it exists. Sometimes, the novel will fester a long time between drafts, pre readers and my own satisfaction before it is launched into the ether. Still, I tell anyway.
However, what I’m usually doing once a novel is completed is, well, setting my sights on the next novel. I have a couple dozen books in my brain and splayed out in notebooks ready to go, but the muse takes me where it seems to want to go. Perhaps all writers have this going on, but I dunno, really. I fear a few blow their loads on one book and fake it for a few more, but I digress.
In school an English teacher used to joke that a paper needs to “cool off” and then one can work on it again with fresh eyes. Every time I pick up a novel that I’ve not worked on in months I hear his erudite voice saying, “I think it’s cooled off enough.”
Also, I don’t just blog this to say what I might do after a draft is completed, but to tell some writers, one has to know when to say when. I’ve run into writers that can’t quit tweaking or screwing with a manuscript. I’m guilty of that on one epic myself that slumbers in my files. Indeed, writers can be their own worse critics, but my father’s phrase about defecating or getting off the pot comes to mind. One has to move forward, unless one doesn’t have those two-dozen ideas to fall back on. Perhaps not moving on is motivated by a fear of failure or that the idea tree is bereft of leaves and growing only feces on branches.
Now that this blog has descended from post-novel writing rituals into better terms for crap, it’s time to wrap it up. What do I do when I’ve finished a novel or a draft? I start another novel. Will the day ever come when I don’t? Sure. I gotta die sometime.