I’m nearly finished with my rough draft of Eye of the Tempest. In fact, I’m just about to embark on (gutting and re)writing one of the mini-climactic scenes that will shortly lead up to the big bang climax. This is not to say that the book is nearly done. There will still be a lot of editing after my agent and betas read it, and I also have a series of “fixes” I’ve identified that need to be changed before anyone even sees it. I also write what I like to think of as “thin” rough drafts, that I go back and pad with more detail.
But first I have to get to the end. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today–how hard it is to get oneself over that last hump which is the near-end of the book. I think this difficulty consists of a bunch of elements, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Commitment issues! We all have ’em, to a certain extent. And let’s face it: finishing a book is a commitment. You’ve committed yourself to having written book X, when, conceivably, you could have written books Y, Z, or (unpronounceable symbol, a la Prince, here), instead.
- Boredom issues! I’ve already moved on, to be honest. Part of me is thinking about the next book, a small part of me is thinking about the next series . . . but here I am, still with Jane in a cave, where we’ve been for months. I love the little minx, but the end stages of a book are a slog, simply because it’s been THIS book for SO long.
- Deadline anxiety! I spend about 1/4 of the time I should be writing planning what work I need to be doing to meet my deadline. It’s an insidious form of procrastination I find unable to resist. Like shortbread, or men with prison records. (Just kidding, mom! Really! Sort of!)
- Real life! It’s like the Murphy’s Law of Deadlines–One never has a deadline, say, in the middle of one’s summer vacation, or the dead period in one’s work. Deadlines must always come slap-dash in the middle of a crisis, or the busiest time in your job, etc. Even if you think you’ve scheduled your deadlines well, Murphy’s Law of Deadlines will exert itself, making sure your ceiling caves in or your plumbing fails, just the week before.
- The near-phobic anxieties we all must endure, to be authors! Authors, no matter how cool we are on the surface, all have to be basket-cases, somewhere, deep inside. We’re all afraid that THIS is the book that sucks. It was fated to suck; it couldn’t NOT suck; and now we have gone forth and hoarked out that suckÃ¡ge on the page, for all to point at and laugh. This near-phobic anxiety runs on an inverse ratio, so the closer you get to finishing, the more you’re convinced you’re wading through suckÃ¡ge.
I’m sure there are more hurdles to jump before finishing a book, and would love to hear about some of them, from you. Because then I can spend this afternoon anxiously meditating on everything y’all have said, rather than doing the writing I need to do, today.
Procrastination itself also runs on an inverse ratio: the closer you are to finishing, the more Facebook sings its siren’s song.
Anyway, I’d love to hear from you about why you find finishing a project (any project) difficult. Or you can just use your comment space to tell me to shut the hell up, get off Facebook, and finish this damned chapter. I will then stare at your comment, wide-eyed (and not writing) as I think about just how right you are.