Friday, September 11, 2009

Rituals of Done

It took me years to quit smoking. Once, I quit for 13 months, then started back up again. Then I quit for 18 months ... only to start back up again. And finally, about seven or eight years ago now, I quit for good. But even then, secretly, I cut a deal with myself: "Jon," I said, "you can have ONE cigarette whenever you finish a novel."

Obviously, that was before I realized that I would never actually finish a novel, that I would spend the next five years drafting and redrafting and redrafting and drafting, until every novel I've written since has been "finished" at least ten times. If I smoked a cigarette every time I finished a novel, I'd be a pack-a-day smoker again.

So I guess my point is that I "finished" another novel yesterday--meaning at least I finished another draft of a previously finished novel and sent it forward to someone who no doubt will tell me it's not quite finished yet and would I mind a few changes to make it truly finished ...

I didn't smoke a cigarette. I didn't really do anything. I guess I made spaghetti and drank an Anchor Steam, which isn't so different from my normal evening. Nowadays, "finishing" another novel is worth about 30 minutes of relief that I no longer have to forward "write book, you fool!" on my calendar every day, plus a few emails to my crit group to announce that I'm done and they probably won't see that book again ... until I have to finish it the next time.

But I do kind of miss the ritual and celebration of the old days, when writing "THE END" felt like I'd turned a corner. So you know what would make me feel better? If someone told me their "ritual of done" and it was a doozy ...

6 comments:

Melanie Avila said...

Obviously, that was before I realized that I would never actually finish a novel...

That made me crack up!

I don't have a ritual, but I've only finished a book once. I suppose I did dance around a bit, but that's not so different from any other day. ;)

LurkerMonkey said...

Melanie,

lol. That's funny, and probably much better for you than spaghetti and beer :)

Nice to see you back.

Natasha Fondren said...

In the first couple years, I'd blow off the rest of the writing day and read for fun. In the past five or so, I generally feel so behind that I give a sigh of relief and immediately open the next project.

LurkerMonkey said...

Natasha,

That sounds ... depressingly familiar.

Kath Calarco said...

My ritual after hitting the finish line involves different steps, but for me the one with the most impact is yelling, "Stick a fork in me, I'm done."

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