Ask A Wench: — What do you do when you finish a book?

Alice in Wonderland 1916

This month's cat out of the hat: What do the wenches do when we finish a book?

Joanna here:  For me "finishing" means sending the manuscript to the editor.

 This isn't the end of writing the book, by any means. There's still substantive editing from my wonderful editor where she says things like—"What?" and— "I have no idea what's going on here!”—and— "What are all these Baldoni doing in London?" and stufflikethatthere.

There's still the copyediting where I discover so very many things I misspelled and all my continuity errors.  Yes. I really have put three days between Monday and Tuesday.  Then there are the galleys where nameless gremlins have snuck in and added odd typos.

But sending the manuscript off, finished, is my big celebration.

 I would like to solemnly tell you that I dance about in the moonlight, leading a band of woodland nymphs through the trees. But that is not so much what I do.  I'm afraid I rather tamely go to a fine restaurant and have a lovely meal, with wine and an Fairy ida outhwaite 1921absurdly calorific dessert and then sleep for about three days straight. Then I read a book I've been holding onto as a reward. 

 Anne here:

“Finish" is a relative term. In some ways "finish" is when I send the manuscript to my editor. I heave a sigh of relief… and then wait, on tenterhooks. Then I'll either get revisions, or it'll go through to copyediting, where they pick up the little things— add in commas or take them out (depending on the copyeditor) fix any bits of English/Australian spelling that has slipped through, check that my characters' eyes stay the same color—that sort of thing. I check the copyedited document and make minor tweaks and send it back. Weeks later I'll get the "galleys" which is the finished manuscript laid out exactly as it will look on the page of the final book. My last chance to spot the mistake. Then it's finished and there's nothing more I can do.

 

In my mind, however, the book is finished the day I send the draft off to my editor. I invariably send it off around midnight, so it will hit the editor's desk first thing in the morning. There's always a hollow feeling in me when I send off a book, and I might have a drink—maybe a wee dram of scotch — and of course I email my writing buddies and say "it's gonnnnne!!!!" I'm usually fairly wired, even though it's very late at night, so at that point I will usually dance naked in the moonlight  prowl around the house and start noticing the chaos that's built up in the last weeks of my deadline. I write like fury in those weeks and do little else. So there's invariably a backlog of stuff tMatisseWoman2o catch up on. I am often tempted to simply light a match and tip-toe quietly away.  In the next few days I tackle the backlog and catch up with all my friends, who kindly welcome the troglodyte me back to the social world.

 

Pic is by Matisse

 

 

Nicola here:

 For me a book is “finished” twice; first when I send in the first draft to my editor and a second time after I have completed the revisions and sent in the final version. Like a number of other Wenches I tend to find that I neglect everything else during the writing process because my mind is full of the story, so when I emerge blinking from sending the draft in, it’s usually to see huge piles of washing and ironing and a very dirty house. I enjoy the process of getting my life back in order. I’ll go for walks, read, go shopping, meet friends, but I find I can’t start thinking in detail about a new project until the revisions are done. At that stage it still feels unfinished really.  Robin Hood's House

 

When the book goes in for the final time there’s a different feeling, a mixture of relief, joy and loss that something that has been such a huge part of my life for the past several months is over. I’ll probably celebrate with a lovely meal and a few glasses of wine! I always tell my family that I will take some time off before I start my next project, a few days, perhaps or even a week. They laugh. Usually I take about 2 hours before I feel the urge to start writing again and even if I’m not putting finger to keyboard the ideas will be buzzing in my head.

 In an ideal world I would finish a book, then take off on an exotic trip somewhere or relax in my own personal country retreat! 

 From Cara/Andrea:

When the last word is typed onto the page, and the file is saved, I deem that the official End Of The Book, and the moment to celebrate. (Though of course there is much work still to be done. I tend to let a ms. sit for a week or two, then do a re-read—and many little re-writes—before it gets sent off to my editor.) So what happens at that magic moment when the story is finally all on paper? You all really don’t need to know this—it’s not a pretty sight, as I shall never be invited to be on "Dancing With The Stars”—but first comes a joyful shimmying and writhing that would make the most primitive tribal rituals look tame. Vocalizing often accompanies the gyrations. The chair bounces. The walls shakes. (The squirrels have been known to flee in terror from the trees near my workroom.) Given the intense caloric demands of Browniessaid celebration, I then deem myself in need of sustenance. That usually takes the form of something containing copious amounts of butter, sugar and chocolate. Brownies or chocolate chip blondies work very well. So does chocolate cake. By that time I’m ready to curl up with one of the many books I’ve put on hold while slaving into the wee hours of the night. Reading, warm sweets… and the nap that quickly follows. Oh, joy.

 From Mary Jo:

What do I do when a book is finished?  The traditional dancing naked in the moonlight is simply far too much work.  For me, what matters is getting the Word file from my computer to my editor's.  Later there will be revisions, copy edits, page proofs, whatever, but that's just rearranging the deck chairs.  The Titanic has already been launched, and hopefully it will swim, not sink! Organ resized

 My own post book routine is more like this: 

1) Stop setting the alarm clock so it won't get me up before I want to.

2) Call friends to set up lunch dates, thereby proving I'm still alive.

3) Call doctors, dentists, veterinarians, etc. to make appointments to get everyone, two and four footed, checked out.

4) Look around the mess that is my office, and decide that it's easier to start another book than to clean up said mess….

 And for the last three years, I've gone directly from delivering a manuscript into a cruise vacation.  Cruises because they require only as much effort as I'm willing to exert (not much!), and it also makes it difficult for anyone, like an editor, to find me. <G> 

 Attached is a picture of the organ in the Passau cathedral from last year's Danube picture.

From Susan:

Usually when I finish a book and press Send, it's about four o'clock in the morning, so I pretty much crawl off to bed for a couple of hours before the rest of the household wakes up. Back in the day I'd print out 400+ pages, secure it with rubber bands, pack it off to FedEx–and while I was out, go for a little retail therapy. Now, all we do is click the Send icon, so finishing a book is a softer, quieter launch. It doesn't have quite the punch of that exhausted, blinking-in-the-daylight journey to release the physical Rembrandt_Artist in his Studiomanuscript off to NYC. But once the thing is off to the editor . . . I paint. Or refinish a table. Or move furniture around.

What I need most after finishing a book is a vigorous three-dimensional, fun, quick-gratification creative project. So I get on a ladder and slap fresh color on walls while listening to music. Or I shove some of the furniture around, create delightful chaos and end up with something fresh and new (my husband is not a big fan of my recovery process). I don't read books or watch movies right away — that's too many words. My brain has had enough words, thoughts, mental processes for a while, and craves working in 3D colors, shapes, spaces. I spent years as an art student, so that may be why I reach for brushes and color, so changing a room is a good, quick, very therapeutic recovery for me. Sooner or later the creative mind has had its little vacation from words-words, and starts thinking about the next book…

 From Pat:

 I chose this question because I really wanted to know how the other wenches knew when they were done with a book. They just seem to know it’s done! That’s magic. By the time I’ve written 80,000+ words, I have twenty versions of the book in my computer. I’ve started two more, I’m editing another, and revising a fourth. Or is that, fifth?  Anyway, I just keep going back to those raw pages, rearranging, revising, editing, re-reading, and setting them aside again—until at some point, I deem them worthy of other eyes besides mine.

The EndAnd then I don’t send to an editor, I send to trusted friends who point out all the obvious flaws I’ve created by mangling the book for twenty-odd versions. Really, plotting is not my strength. It’s not until I’ve gone through this last process that I dare send to an editor, but by then, I’m hip deep in all those other manuscripts, so who has time to take a cruise? Or even shimmy and shout?

 

So I take my fun when it presents itself, and work the rest of the time.

How about you? What do you do when you’ve finished a project?

 

 

45 thoughts on “Ask A Wench: — What do you do when you finish a book?”

  1. Although it’s still probably six months before I send a ms off to an editor, the point where I celebrate is when I finish the rough (and I do mean rough) draft of a novel. That’s when I know I have something with a beginning, middle and end that can, in succeeding drafts, be turned into a real novel. Then I go work on the other book I’m writing (different genre under a different name) for the next couple of months so that I can look at book one with fresh eyes when I go back to it. How do I celebrate? No writing at all for a few days. If I time it right, a get together with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. Okay, yes, probably at a writers’ conference or a fan convention. The last couple of years I’ve finished the rough draft of the next book in my contemporary mystery series just in time to go to the Malice Domestic mystery fan gathering. Perfect way to celebrate.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  2. Although it’s still probably six months before I send a ms off to an editor, the point where I celebrate is when I finish the rough (and I do mean rough) draft of a novel. That’s when I know I have something with a beginning, middle and end that can, in succeeding drafts, be turned into a real novel. Then I go work on the other book I’m writing (different genre under a different name) for the next couple of months so that I can look at book one with fresh eyes when I go back to it. How do I celebrate? No writing at all for a few days. If I time it right, a get together with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. Okay, yes, probably at a writers’ conference or a fan convention. The last couple of years I’ve finished the rough draft of the next book in my contemporary mystery series just in time to go to the Malice Domestic mystery fan gathering. Perfect way to celebrate.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  3. Although it’s still probably six months before I send a ms off to an editor, the point where I celebrate is when I finish the rough (and I do mean rough) draft of a novel. That’s when I know I have something with a beginning, middle and end that can, in succeeding drafts, be turned into a real novel. Then I go work on the other book I’m writing (different genre under a different name) for the next couple of months so that I can look at book one with fresh eyes when I go back to it. How do I celebrate? No writing at all for a few days. If I time it right, a get together with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. Okay, yes, probably at a writers’ conference or a fan convention. The last couple of years I’ve finished the rough draft of the next book in my contemporary mystery series just in time to go to the Malice Domestic mystery fan gathering. Perfect way to celebrate.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  4. Although it’s still probably six months before I send a ms off to an editor, the point where I celebrate is when I finish the rough (and I do mean rough) draft of a novel. That’s when I know I have something with a beginning, middle and end that can, in succeeding drafts, be turned into a real novel. Then I go work on the other book I’m writing (different genre under a different name) for the next couple of months so that I can look at book one with fresh eyes when I go back to it. How do I celebrate? No writing at all for a few days. If I time it right, a get together with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. Okay, yes, probably at a writers’ conference or a fan convention. The last couple of years I’ve finished the rough draft of the next book in my contemporary mystery series just in time to go to the Malice Domestic mystery fan gathering. Perfect way to celebrate.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  5. Although it’s still probably six months before I send a ms off to an editor, the point where I celebrate is when I finish the rough (and I do mean rough) draft of a novel. That’s when I know I have something with a beginning, middle and end that can, in succeeding drafts, be turned into a real novel. Then I go work on the other book I’m writing (different genre under a different name) for the next couple of months so that I can look at book one with fresh eyes when I go back to it. How do I celebrate? No writing at all for a few days. If I time it right, a get together with friends I haven’t seen for awhile. Okay, yes, probably at a writers’ conference or a fan convention. The last couple of years I’ve finished the rough draft of the next book in my contemporary mystery series just in time to go to the Malice Domestic mystery fan gathering. Perfect way to celebrate.
    Kathy/Kaitlyn

    Reply
  6. I would hope for each of you, that one of the first things you do when “FINISHED” would be to look in the mirror and say to that image “well done”! Y’all should be thrilled that you are able to do what you do. Writing is what you love, others love what you write, and being talented is a gift from God.
    I would not hope for smug, but I do hope that you appreciate that what you do brings so much pleasure to others. So be proud.
    And if you ever do a group dancing in the moonlight naked —-pictures could make you a fortune.

    Reply
  7. I would hope for each of you, that one of the first things you do when “FINISHED” would be to look in the mirror and say to that image “well done”! Y’all should be thrilled that you are able to do what you do. Writing is what you love, others love what you write, and being talented is a gift from God.
    I would not hope for smug, but I do hope that you appreciate that what you do brings so much pleasure to others. So be proud.
    And if you ever do a group dancing in the moonlight naked —-pictures could make you a fortune.

    Reply
  8. I would hope for each of you, that one of the first things you do when “FINISHED” would be to look in the mirror and say to that image “well done”! Y’all should be thrilled that you are able to do what you do. Writing is what you love, others love what you write, and being talented is a gift from God.
    I would not hope for smug, but I do hope that you appreciate that what you do brings so much pleasure to others. So be proud.
    And if you ever do a group dancing in the moonlight naked —-pictures could make you a fortune.

    Reply
  9. I would hope for each of you, that one of the first things you do when “FINISHED” would be to look in the mirror and say to that image “well done”! Y’all should be thrilled that you are able to do what you do. Writing is what you love, others love what you write, and being talented is a gift from God.
    I would not hope for smug, but I do hope that you appreciate that what you do brings so much pleasure to others. So be proud.
    And if you ever do a group dancing in the moonlight naked —-pictures could make you a fortune.

    Reply
  10. I would hope for each of you, that one of the first things you do when “FINISHED” would be to look in the mirror and say to that image “well done”! Y’all should be thrilled that you are able to do what you do. Writing is what you love, others love what you write, and being talented is a gift from God.
    I would not hope for smug, but I do hope that you appreciate that what you do brings so much pleasure to others. So be proud.
    And if you ever do a group dancing in the moonlight naked —-pictures could make you a fortune.

    Reply
  11. LOL on the group pic! I think people would pay us not to show such a sight. 😉
    But I don’t think writers, in general, completely grasp what effect our work has on others. It’s the reason we blog and cruise social media and list our email addresses–so we can forge connections with our readers and reassure ourselves that we’re not writing in a vacuum. Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone!

    Reply
  12. LOL on the group pic! I think people would pay us not to show such a sight. 😉
    But I don’t think writers, in general, completely grasp what effect our work has on others. It’s the reason we blog and cruise social media and list our email addresses–so we can forge connections with our readers and reassure ourselves that we’re not writing in a vacuum. Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone!

    Reply
  13. LOL on the group pic! I think people would pay us not to show such a sight. 😉
    But I don’t think writers, in general, completely grasp what effect our work has on others. It’s the reason we blog and cruise social media and list our email addresses–so we can forge connections with our readers and reassure ourselves that we’re not writing in a vacuum. Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone!

    Reply
  14. LOL on the group pic! I think people would pay us not to show such a sight. 😉
    But I don’t think writers, in general, completely grasp what effect our work has on others. It’s the reason we blog and cruise social media and list our email addresses–so we can forge connections with our readers and reassure ourselves that we’re not writing in a vacuum. Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone!

    Reply
  15. LOL on the group pic! I think people would pay us not to show such a sight. 😉
    But I don’t think writers, in general, completely grasp what effect our work has on others. It’s the reason we blog and cruise social media and list our email addresses–so we can forge connections with our readers and reassure ourselves that we’re not writing in a vacuum. Thank you for reminding us that we’re not alone!

    Reply

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