The Grief of Finishing a Draft

dragon175k words … good Lord, that was difficult.

Last week I finished the rough draft of The Fire Reborn. This is the third book in my Chronicles of Eres series, and the last in the trilogy arc of Caleb’s story.

This was the most difficult book I’ve ever written.

I like to write 2k words a day, average, and finish the rough draft in three months. I’ve done this with the last three drafts I’ve written (The Pack was written in a month for NaNoWriMo … somewhat of an exception).

I began this draft on 4.12.16. In May. I finished on 11.11.16. That’s right at 6 months. Why so long?

A few practical reasons. First, my wife and I bought a house. Along with feeling like I gave up my cool Rock n’ Roll card forever, I barely wrote for a month. All available and unavailable moments were consumed with loan applications, looking at houses, negotiations once we found one, packing, moving, etc.

Oh, and second, I went to Guatemala on a missions trip. Took some time out of the schedule.

Third, my wife and I and some close friends started a local church. Looking for places to meet and all the emotional energy getting to the Sunday meeting was exhausting.

A last practical issue was the length of the book. I wrote The Pack in a month because it was 80k words. Still a feat, but it was all one story in first person and brought to a close. The Fire Reborn is more than twice as long and part of a much larger world with several different characters and stories coming together in an epic fashion that takes more thought and planning to keep a good pace and yet cover the story I needed to cover.

As an emotional issue, this book was difficult to write, emotionally, especially the last half of it. I was bringing characters to the end of their arc, several of them. Some of them died, but all of them came full circle in their development. It took me more time and effort to get into the writing zone and mood because of the emotional toil each scene seemed to take as journeys ended. I wanted and needed to write … but at the same time, I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want it to be over. Weird, huh?

And I haven’t even talked about crazy schedules and normal writer’s block type stuff. It’s all in there, too.

But I finished, and while I was overjoyed that it was done (and I felt it was great and epic and cool), I got into grief mode, too.

I poured myself into this draft for six months. Half a year. Thinking and working on the draft, trying to get it finished, was a habit. It was a huge part of my life, these characters, their story. And now it’s done.

Silly to grieve, I know. And I’ve grieved drafts before, but none like this. None this personal. None this real. None this deeply.

Now the real work begins. The editing, the revision, the proof reading. But there’s also the grief.

And you know what? That’s how it should be. As writers, why would we spend months on a project (it will be more like a year total before it’s all done) if we aren’t emotionally invested? We don’t write for the money or the fame or chicks (or dudes). If you want those things, be a rock star. We write because we want to pour our soul into something and see it live. We want to create and have impact on others like they’ve had impact on us. And that is an emotional thing first, before any other ideas or causes are expressed. First, it is emotional.

So as silly as it is, it is real, and I’ll grieve.

And then I’ll create again.



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