A fortnight ago I typed “The End” on the last computer screen page of my new historical novel about an Australian soldier-settler family. It’s a long book, spanning two generations. First War. Between the Wars. Second War. And it took a long time to finish.
In fact the last words were typed at 11.40 a.m. precisely three years, one month and four days since the first sentence fell from my fingers in October 2011. Given the commitment to such a big project, you tend to get pedantic – not to say obsessive about these things.
Now that the labour of composition is done, I’ll be sharing in this blog the many stages of the journey as we travel towards publication in mid-2016. I hope beginner writers will find interest in – and that established writers will share their experience of – the nuts and bolts that are part of the editorial process. All that cutting … revising … editing … designing … pictorial selection … promotional planning and so on that’s necessary to turn a manuscript into a published book,
But the thing I want to tell you today is the sense of loss I felt when those last words “The End” appeared on the screen. You’d have thought that after such a labour the dominant emotion would be relief … elation … ecstasy that a heavy burden had been lifted in time to celebrate Christmas free from the daily discipline of the desk. And all these things were there.
But the dominant sensation was sadness – a sort of post-partum depression that the child of my inner life was no longer wholly mine. After a three-year gestation, the act of literary creation had brought it forth into the world. And while I’ll certainly be guiding its early steps, from now on the book will be making its way with the help of others to an independent existence.
Which is a cause for celebration … but also regret, like the infants’ first day at school. You have to let them go, but the desire to protect and nurture them from the pitfalls ahead is very strong.
Is this strange of me, do you think? I mean, how do you respond when you come to the end of a piece of work – be it writing or any other form of creative endeavour? Shout Yippee!! Or do you want to keep it as your very own for just a little bit longer? Because without it you feel bereft, and a part of you gone forever.
Until you realise, of course, that “The End” is just “The Beginning” of something new.