Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Final Stretch

by Janis Patterson

There’s a certain feeling when you’re almost through writing a book. 

No, that’s wrong. There are lots of feelings when you’re almost through writing a book. Delight that the d*****d thing is almost done and you don’t have to wrestle with tying things up any more. Fear that there are things you haven’t tied up. Sadness that you’re on the verge of leaving a world and characters you created, ones that feel familiar. Happiness that you don’t have to work with these uncooperative and headstrong people in a suddenly tiresome setting again. Anticipation that after the polishing and editing are done you can move on to a new idea, a better idea, a bright shiny enticing idea that will be better and easier to write than this one.

Having always been enticed by bright, shiny things, I’m inevitably looking forward to the new project. That’s also the reason I never have less than four projects going at a time. The new shiny thing is always a better idea, and it will be easier to write, and sometimes it makes me feel better to get it started and even just a little bit written. It’s a new world and new people, all just waiting for me to explore, just as soon as I finish this horrible, uncooperative piece of junk I’ve been wrestling with.

It’s very easy to forget that I felt the exact same way about this book when winding up the one before it.

From talking to other writers I gather that most of them feel the same way close to the end of each book. I cannot comprehend the thought processes of those who write series – especially long-running series – when faced with yet another story in the same world utilizing a lot of the same characters. I would die of boredom. However – it seems I am in the minority, as series are very popular now both with readers and writers. It escapes me how people could be so in love with a set of characters in the same general setting that they demand story after story about the original hero’s brothers and cousins and such. Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of series, though it boggles the mind how one set of characters can believably stumble over body after body. I think it’s called the Jessica Fletcher syndrome. After someone discovers their fourth or fifth body, I would do my best to keep me and my loved ones far away from that murder-magnet. However, if people like that sort of thing – and they obviously do – then I say joy go with them.

Because I am basically a weakling – and because I need to perk up my sales – I have sort of changed direction and am considering writing a series. This will be a different sort of series, though – there will be one central character, but with a different setting and a different set of people in every book. Some of the characters from other books will appear, usually very briefly or only in phone calls or that sort of thing, just to have some sense of continuity and my character’s world. Each book will take place in a different part of the globe and will have its own feel. It’s a very different and exciting concept, and I am gleefully looking forward to working on it.

As soon as I finish this complicated, uncooperative tangle I’m working on now, that is.


Fran McNabb said...

Janis, I agree that finishing a book brings up "a ton" of mixed emotions. I just finished KEEPING HOPE ALIVE and now I'm floundering with new ideas. I jump from one to another because when I'm not in the middle of a project, I feel empty.
Good luck with your new series idea.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Most of the time, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment at the completion of a new book. However, then begins dealing with agents, publishers, and editors--all rather frustrating.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

At the moment, I'm between books, and loving it. Most of my time now is devoted on promoting.

Sandy Cody said...

Timely post for me. Experiencing the emotions involved with finishing a book is the goal I'm trying to reach at the moment - that barely visible light at the end of the tunnel. As for writing a series, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. Characters you thought you knew well will surprise you - much as your oldest and dearest fiends do. Good luck with it.

Cheryl said...

This got me thinking about my varied reactions to writing 'the end' - there was one book I was glad to see finished but, to my surprise, I wound up in tears because I missed the characters so much. Thanks for sharing, Janis.

Morgan Mandel said...

Be careful about promising a series, even one with only 3 books. I still have the third book of my Always Young series to finish, and have been putting it off too long. Somehow, other ideas seem much more attractive!

Helen Henderson said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one ambivalent about finishing a book. I'm happy that it's done (or like my Dragshi Chronicles, that the series is completed), but I also grieve that its done and I'll be saying farewell to those who have become friends or provided escape from the world I live in. The feeling of accomplishment is offset by the panic of what is noone buys the books, or worse finds a typo on page 2.

With three books (the 3rd volume in a series, a non-fiction local history, and a book of short stories and poems honoring those who served and those who supported them on the homefront), all I can say is that emotions are pinging off the wall. I'd say things will calm down but I'll be packing to move at the same time.

Shiny new things are a coming, I like the imagery.