What's it like to finish a story for you?
To me there's nothing quite like finishing a first draft, particularly of a novel. Day after day after day, working toward The End - and finally reaching it? A wonderful, electric feeling (though not without a little exhaustion hidden beneath the surface).
Yet even finishing later drafts is interesting. The satisfaction, the energy of it. A week ago I finished the latest draft of my novel in progress and let it out of my hands. There's a thrill in that, in both the finishing and releasing... I find myself, often, with a sort of nervous energy filtering out through my limbs, out to my fingertips, as if they want to keep on tap tap tapping on those keys. It's like a static charge that builds up as you approach the end.
I finished, and found myself walking crazy little circles around the house, bobbing in and out of rooms, picking things up, putting them down, picking them up again. I decided to go for a run. Use that energy. Exercise and exorcise it, in a sense, as it would take awhile to settle down otherwise.
Feet on the pavement. There's a physical release, but there's always that sense of something that approaches meditation. The rhythm and repetition of running, of breathing, creates a calm state. Sort of paradoxical, really: when the body is most alive, most active, the mind is in one of its most settled states.
And part of this state (at least for me) is one of creation, of seeing ahead. And isn't this part of what writing The End is about - writing new beginnings?
There's always something next to write. Already, on that run, my brain started looking ahead to something new. And yet is that strange? There is something to be said for fully enjoying the steps on the way - to revel in that satisfaction that comes with completion.
And yet... writing is about the journey, about discovering something. Whatever ambitions I might have for my finished stories (readers, success, a career, etc.) it always comes back to the writing for me. The process. It's the process I love, the act of creation - of seeking, unearthing, discerning, feeling, shaping.
There's joy in completion, and yet nothing is ever complete. Perhaps I'm merely writing one long and ever-shifting story, a story of my perception of the world (however fantastical). A story that never ends - and without a true ending the true satisfaction has to come from that process, from that transformation of experience, dream and thought into words, into sentences and paragraphs and chapters, into that endless and ever-shifting narrative.
What about you? What is writing The End like for you? How do you react? Does the next thing always call you onward? Or is better to just spend some time binging on champagne and ice cream?