The catharsis of “finished”

There is an immense satisfaction in writing this post, as it has been exactly a year since my penultimate update on my novel, The Soft Fall. And I don’t expect these long stretches of silence to continue, due to my reason for posting this now.

The final draft is finished. 

Technically, it was finished before Christmas — a nail-biting deadline I set myself, since the holiday season is the crunchiest of crunch times for us little independent booksellers. This allowed me the foresight to order a personal printed and bound hard copy of the manuscript, stick a festive bow and a gift tag to it, and present it upon the tiny pile of gifts under our tree (which is really just two overwintering potted oak saplings sharing soil).

How seemingly meta to place my tenuous project beneath the brittle and browning twigs of our barely grown little oaklings, Thorin Oakenshield and Professor Oak. Both my book and these plants are lifeforms in their own right, straining against their rooted natures, longing to create breath, reaching toward sunlight. They are so delicate, so susceptible to a cold untimely death. They want to be touched, studied, nurtured into being. They want to live.

This time in my life is the culmination of blood, sweat, and tears: a marathon of research, outlining, editing, hiding in cafes, the frantic jotting of spontaneous ideas bursting through synapses with ink-stained and paper-cut fingers, more editing, crying sometimes, the peaceful gray of a rainy morning with only Alt-J and black coffee for company while trying to tap out turns of phrases on my keyboard. Creating is messy. Creators only hope to shape their ultimate creations into something less so.

And it’s for you.

That is why I wrote on the gift tag: “To: You.” With the addendum, “Sorry.”

This is not intended to be self-deprecating. I’m sorry because between all these messy moments, I have truly enjoyed this experience from which I am beginning to diverge. Of course I am still learning, always. I am crafting query letters to selected literary agents. I am sketching my characters and settings because I don’t want to leave the world I made. This new process could be likened to the joys and terrors of raising a first-born child who is then to be released on the cusp of adulthood. And then you are wondering, “Did I teach you the right things? Will you be safe? What will become of you?”

The draft is finished. These words smack of doubt, because what really constitutes a “finished” product?

To me, you know by your a gut instinct. As Aimes would say, it’s a soft Fall.