October 10, 2013

Finished. The Truth About Being An Author

So I finished writing my latest book. I’m not sure how, because I can’t quite remember writing it. I know I sat down at the computer nearly every day for eight months and typed, but I can’t remember the words coming out. They sort of appeared on the page as if by magic, 65,000 of them, at the end of last month. I am hoping this is a sign that it is a work of genius, and not simply that I wrote most of it at night after a glass or two of wine.

I guess we’ll see.
 
There is a huge sense of satisfaction in finishing a manuscript, often compared to giving birth. Well, I’ve written three books, and given birth to three babies, and I can’t see many similarities at all. I mean, each time there was pain and a massive effort, and a lot of screaming for it to be over, but that’s where the comparison ends.

Creating a person from scratch takes nine months (or nine and a half, if you’re me). And then you push it out, and you have a new baby in your arms, and absolutely everything changes from that very first moment.
Finishing a book is completely different. Yes, this last book also took nine months, and yes, there was a definite high when I finished. I stared at the finished draft for several minutes feeling very clever, much like one would stare at a new baby. I had already decided what to name it, so I typed the name on it and closed the file. Then I treated myself to a cup of tea and a lie down, much as I did after giving birth, and rang my mum to tell her the good news. She was very excited, though not quite as excited as when I told her her grandchildren had been born.

Strange, I know.
But then that was it. Nothing else happened. I sent the file on to my agent, and that was the end of the story. Nothing changed. My life stayed exactly the same.

I have had two books published and this one will no doubt be published too. It’s a good book. I’m proud of it. But I know enough now to know that publishing a book isn’t the life changing experience one imagines it will be.
Becoming a published author is a crazy dream for so many of us. We imagine that everything will look different when we have achieved our goal. We will be successful, glamorous, perfectly fulfilled. But nothing much looks different. Sure, we have the excitement of seeing our book in print, and – if we’re lucky – the thrill of receiving royalty cheques in the mail. There may be a launch party, and some press. There may be minutes, even an hour or so, of glamour.

Essentially, however, life stays the same. Unless we are J K Rowling, or E L James, or Tom Wolfe, chances are we are not going to be propelled to super stardom. And we are not going to be propelled to great wealth.
But that’s not why we write. We write because we have to. Because we itch to be read. Because we cannot be happy doing anything else.

And for several minutes after we finish a manuscript, we feel very clever indeed.

21 comments:

  1. Huge congratulations on finishing it Kerri :) I look forward to reading it!

    This post makes so much sense. I used to think the same about my degree, and my higher degree - but, it's just the same. Yes, there was that lovely cleverness feel on my graduation days. But that is all too fleeting.

    Enjoy the cleverness & enjoy basking in the glory of your 3rd non-baby baby. xo

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  2. Well done Kerri - what a marvellous achievement xx

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  3. Loved this one darls. Well done. You've written through a tough year with so much going on. That's a true writer. xx

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  4. Still working on the first draft of my first book... I'm really looking forward to the experience of feeling "very clever indeed" for a few minutes after finishing it... :)


    Thanks for writing this - you are one of my writing inspirations, so I love hearing about your process and your feelings about writing... xx

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  5. An incredible feat, with or without publishing...bravo!

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  6. Great post Kerri. x

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  7. Well done - and enjoy the moment / minutes / hours of feeling very clever, and then enjoy the next stages of life too!

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  8. You are so very clever and I am so very proud. xxxx

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  9. I'm having more than a cup of tea when I finish my first book this weekend (!!!) and even more after the photoshoot's complete. Gestation period has only been two months. Well done Kerri xx

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  10. Congrats! Out of interest... do you do a first draft and then put it aside for a while before coming back to it; edit as you go; or both? (Or (d) neither, I guess!)

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  11. Congrats on another one day, and many more to come. If I ever manage to get published I don't have wild dreams of glory, just a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. That will be enough. But you say it so well, we write because we have to. It is ingrained in me and I don't feel whole unless I write xxx

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  12. Bravo- a huge effort in a terribly tough year. And I have to admit I don't even get that few minutes of feeling very clever any more. When I finished my latest (6th) book last month, I just went straight on to worrying about what my publisher would think.

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  13. Kerri, it doesn't matter WHY you write, as long as you do. Getting it published, is the reward for all that effort. I might even buy this one, as well !.... :-D

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  14. Congratulations spunky chick x

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  15. Love this post! And congratulations. Enjoy the clever feeling. Hope it lasts more than several minutes. x

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  16. well done Kerri. I personally think you are very clever indeed, not just for being a published writer, but for being a kind, big-hearted, loyal and kick-arse funny person. Go you xx

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  17. Kathy www.yinyangmother.comOctober 10, 2013 at 8:41 PM

    Well done Kerri - enjoy your cleverness. I suspect the writing may have been some sort of therapy that you don't yet truly appreciate, so that has to be a bonus.

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  18. Paula Orbea questionsforwomenOctober 10, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    I am in complete awe. I think you're amazeballs and I only wish I can one day fulfil that dream of writing a book! Congratulations you good thing! x

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  19. Benison O'ReillyOctober 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Yes. Sums it up perfectly. x

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  20. I am so impressed - you did this - on top of everything else - life and other crises - well done, you have to give yourself many gold stars for this xx

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  21. Well done Kerri, congratulations on finishing book 3. No doubt it will be published and I look forward to reading it. I totally understand about your motivation for writing and I am glad that I've discovered and enjoyed the words you've put together, thank you :-)

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Thanks! Love hearing from you.

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