So, what do I do now that I’ve finished the book?

Now I really finish it. Jacob Wrestling is back on my desk with a handful of revision notes and instructions to extend the novel’s length by a hefty percentage. After I had a nightmare in which I was told to expunge one of my main characters, the idea of writing more rather than hacking out sounded pretty great. Once the reality of the revision process set in, I followed the below program in preparing myself for the road ahead:

1. Eat string cheese.

2. Have crisis of confidence.

3. Call writing buddy to be talked away from crisis ledge.

4. Eat string cheese.

5. Pace around house.

6. Have second crisis of confidence, repeat steps 3 through 5.

7. Explain sequence and nature of crises to husband, who finds it all a bit humorous.

8. Get excited about revisions.

9. Locate lucky pen.

10. Color-coordinate sticky notes.

11. Print out clean copy of manuscript.

12. Eat the rest of the string cheese and vow never to buy more.

13. Stare at manuscript.

Okay, so the weekend was bust in terms of getting anything done, but I think that’s okay; between the lapses in confidence and the consumption of cheese, I managed to have some (if I may congratulate myself) pretty good ideas about expanding the plot line. I also realized that I don’t need to fear making the book too long. All this time, I had envisioned the book as very tight, short, and dense–sort of a cannonball of a book in which every word pulls a heavy weight. When I thought a chapter was becoming too involved, I cut material mercilessly. I was quite worried that I’d start boring my reader if I let the plot extend and evolve itself too far from the core of its arc. And because I’m generally a pretty terse writer, blathering on is my greatest fear. But now I’m allowing myself to understand that the book can still be terse and snug and more expansive at the same time. I’ll have to work carefully and methodically, but length and tightness don’t have to contradict one another. Now that I’ve settled into the goals ahead of me, here’s what I did today:

1. Use lucky pen on clean copy of manuscript.

2. Apply color-coordinated sticky notes to manuscript in meaningful ways.

3. Write new stuff.

3 Replies to “So, what do I do now that I’ve finished the book?”

  1. Hooray! You on a roll already. One measly weekend of hand-wringing is totally par for the course. And yes–string cheese is a dangerous thing.

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