You have typed until your fingers bled. You have poured your heart and soul into a story. Finally, there’s nothing left to write. Your first draft is done? That can’t be right. You go back and work on your second draft, and maybe your third, and feel there’s nothing left to add.
So… Now what?
Technically, you send it to an editor, but that’s not a satisfying answer. An artist once said, “art is never finished, only abandoned.” (Some attribute it to Picasso, others to Leonardo da Vinci, and some say it’s unknown.) That’s how it feels, at least to me. After spending so much time developing repetitive strain injury from my keyboard writing a book, finishing it seems to equate with parting with it. It’s like a mother bird pushing its child out of the nest so it can fly for the first time, and then watching as it takes a nosedive and dies in a humiliating and painful way.
Well, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but this brings me to my second most persistent thought.
This has left me in a period of mourning. I miss working on it, and the ending leaves no room for a compelling sequel. It’s a dark and yet comedic “whydunit” mystery, not a literary classic; my goal was to create a light, entertaining read that would make the reader laugh and cry. (More info here.) Knowing this from the beginning, I somehow managed to get attached to it anyway, despite promising myself that I wouldn’t get absorbed in my own fantasy world. I’m bidding farewell to a friend.
Thirdly, I have hope for my 86,000 word novel, but not a lot. I hate myself, but even I have to admit that I’m a good writer — and yet, so are so many other unknowns who don’t sell enough copies to buy a tank of gas. It isn’t realistic to anticipate decent sales, considering my marketing skills haven’t improved since I was ten years old and participating in school fundraisers. Talent alone isn’t going to make me stand out from the millions of books that are published each year.
My only advice to you is to never give up. It feels great to finish something, no matter what you decide to do with it once you’re done.