I had more a thoughtful, thought-provoking post planned for today. But instead of writing it over the weekend, I finished — like, really finished, read over one more time, crossed the last few T’s and dotted the last few I’s, and completely rewrote one scene — my second young adult novel and e-mailed it to my editor for the very first time. Hooray! And now I’m completely wiped out.
I also just realized I don’t really have a ritual for this stage of the process and I’m wondering if I should. I used to — printing out the manuscript, bundling it up, taking it to the post office and mailing it was a hell of a nice ritual to symbolically clear my desk and send my latest baby on its way. But for the last year or so I’ve been e-mailing my manuscripts to my editors instead of snail-mailing hard copies. Clicking “attach file” and “send” just isn’t as momentous as the trip to the post office was. (Though e-mail is a hell of a lot cheaper. Mailing 400 sheets of paper is expensive!)
Part of it is also that this isn’t the stage of the process I celebrate the most. This isn’t the part where I feel like I’ve accomplished the most. That comes when I finish the very first draft. Actually, I call it the zero draft — the moment when there’s a complete manuscript with all the holes filled in, that is theoretically enough to turn into a finished book if something dreadful should happen to me. That’s when I celebrate with the bottle of wine and the night on the town. (Or just a bottle of wine…)
At this stage, I feel relief more than accomplishment. Like there’s a weight off my shoulders. Like I can finally clean off my desk, gather up all the notes and revisions, stick them in an envelope and lock them away in the filing cabinet. I can finally turn all my attention to the next project.
At least, until my editor sends back the revision notes. Assuming she likes it enough to even bother with revisions. Cue the vicious inner voice of doubt. In truth, I’m not sure any of the anxiety ever goes away. A year from now I’ll be bitching and moaning about being worried that no one will like the book, whether my career is over, etc. It’s the anxiety-ridden circle of life for the professional author!
For now, I’m going to enjoy the sense of relief.
Let me throw it out to you guys: Do you have rituals for when you send something off? Is it different from any rituals you have when you finish a project?