Today, I sent a 340-page (just shy of 100,000 words) manuscript to my editor and agent. I was thirteen days early, unless one considers the fact that my Feb. 7th deadline was a revised one. Normally, I deliver my books between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1. This means that I did not complete a novel in 2010, the first time I have failed to do so since 1996. Granted, I didn’t even start this book until February, which means I managed to write it in less than twelve months. But I still feel a little sad about breaking my own streak even if, through the wonders of fast-track publishing — and assuming it’s deemed acceptable — I will have a title out this year.
But I finished! Sort of. (There are more drafts to come.) And that calls for a celebration, which has so far taken shape this way.
Walk to office supply store for paper, a memory stick and computer cleaner.
Have slice of veggie pizza.
Stop at drugstore for chocolate, a diet Sprite and a battery-powered fabric shaver.
Stop at bookstore to sign stock of THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT and pure-pleasure reading: THE WEIRD SISTERS, LORD OF MISRULE, ONE DAY and MAJOR PETTIGREW’S LAST STAND. These will go into the TBR pile behind the Sondheim book (which inspired my title) and A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD.
Later today — I’ll go to the nice wine store for a bottle of chardonnay.
Tomorrow, I’ll get up and start revising, even as my editor is editing. Tricky, risky even, but it works for us. By getting a headstart, I put myself in a head space where I’m not glum when the marked-up pages come back to me because I’m trying to think like an editor.
Last week, I was at Eckerd College for the annual writers conference, Writers in Paradise. I did manuscript consultations and I urged the students to ask themselves if they were “finishers” or “procrastinators.” Both types have their disadvantages. Finishers, of which I am one, love to finish so much that they might rush a bit. Procrastinators are perfectionists, which means they have a vested interest in never finishing. (If it’s not finished, it can’t be found wanting.)
I ask this blog’s visitors today: Which are you? And how do you celebrate when you finish something big?