"The End" is Only the Beginning
I've had a lot of people ask me lately about how I celebrate finishing a novel. "It must be such a wonderful feeling when it's done!" they say, and then they sit eagerly forward with their little shining faces tilted upward, waiting for me to tell them about the wrap parties and caviar and trips to exotic places where I sip champagne on the beach and take calls from Hollywood.
I don't have the heart to tell them it's NEVER finished: that no matter how much I want to feel accomplished and happy, I never am, and that more often than not I'm pretty convinced that the entire thing is worthless. Want to know a dirty little secret of us writers? Most of the real work in writing a novel happens after that first draft. After all the cutting and rearranging I get to a point where I'm happy enough to send it off into the world, but the feeling that I've never quite captured what I wanted to do is probably what makes me keep trying to write another one. Writing the perfect novel is like trying to grab smoke; it just keeps slipping through your fingers.
On that note, Graham Joyce has a brilliant post up on his blog about what it's really like for us writers to type "the end." I couldn't have said it better myself.