Finished editing and revising The Constant. Final results: 391 pages, 106,291 words. Speculative science fiction mash up. I’ve worked on it throughout the coronavirus pandemic, beginning it around the time in March of 2020 when wearing masks, social distancing, isolation, and watching the daily case numbers became the new norms of the age. I’d been forced into a change of my writing practices. I liked walking to get into the writing rhythm, writing in my head as I did, then settling into a coffee shop, comforted and buffeted by the business activities around me, lowering my head and writing for a few hours. That was all forced aside under COVID-19 rules. Staying at home, shifting into the writing rhythm without the associated rituals was an exhausting, frustrating shift.
Satisfying feeling to finish the novel. I often think of James Caan as author Paul Sheldon in the movie version of the Stephen King version, Misery, when I finish a novel. He had a ritual for when he finished his. He writes ‘The End’ on the final page in pencil. Stacks and tidies the manuscript. Puts it into an attaché. Pours a glass of champagne. Regards a cigarette. Puts it in his mouth, lights the match and then the cigarette. Takes a drag. We learn later, when he’s under Annie Wilke’s care (the nurse and fan played by Kathy Bates) that this was his ritual created when he finished his first successful novel. It’s an engaging film. Was released in 1990. Wow, thirty-two years ago. You should watch it if you haven’t seen it. Also a good book to read. Misery, by Stephen King.
I don’t have any rituals. As others noted after I posted about wrestling with a chapter called Thelma & Louise, it feels good to finish a challenging task. Writing a novel is a challenging task. Finishing it is rewarding. Too, I feel the loss of being done, something felt when I changed duty stations in the military or advanced from one grade to another in school as a child. You’ve done something, and you’re moving forward; yet, to do that, some things must be left behind. What is left behind is part of my fabric of daily activities and focus. Finishing the writing of a novel is about change that I’ve forced on myself.
It’s a change I accept. I’ve done it before. I’ll do it again. The process and finishing are a comforting buffer against the war videos emerging coming out of Europe as Russia attacks Ukraine.