I have rediscovered the thrill of typing two special words. Those words, to those of you who haven't had the pleasure or who have forgotten, are The End.
I have been working on numerous manuscripts over the past year and they typically don't cause me any stress. That is, they don't cause stress until the deadline approaches. Then stress levels grow and sleep levels drop.
I HATE missing deadlines, especially if they are commitments I've made to others (especially my publisher). That being the case, I see one coming and I will do whatever I can to meet it. In this case, the commitment was to get my novel into the hands of my publisher for the end-of-March. That meant I had to have the draft finished by end-of-February.
I was writing the novel at a decent pace. I knew the end was coming and that I should be able to hit the deadlines.
I need to step back and take a moment to explain why this particular book is so important to me and maybe adds more anxiety than normal. The book is the third in my Mik Murdoch, Boy Superhero series. I have had fans of the first two books asking me when the next is coming (the last was August 2014 - not too long ago - they were asking within days of the second's release) which adds to the urgency. I have also had a large number of other writers, publishers, etc. tell me how it is with the third book in the series that things really begin to take off.
Being the impatient fellow I am, that underscores, bolds and italicizes the urgency even more (yes, possibly even applies a bright yellow highlighter to it all).
There were a few outline changes that needed to be made so the story flowed better. I made those and continued writing. But the movement of words threw me off just a little and started to put my deadlines in jeopardy.
I made some decisions on how to proceed and plowed forward still stressing over finishing on time as well as other approaching project deadlines. If I missed these two deadlines, other projects that must be ready might also be missed so the fun of sleepless nights was growing.
So, I hit the final week of February with several chapters left to write. I buckled down and wrote a chapter a night, the pace I needed to accomplish my objective. The final day of the month was looming and I had one chapter left. I also had a book signing and several different weekend jobs to complete.
Would I make it or would I be late?
I got home from my signing, grabbed a cup of coffee to re-energize and began typing. I knew what I wanted the last chapter to be and it flowed from my fingers to the keyboard quickly.
Then came the magic moment. I typed the words I had been waiting for: "The End".
I hit save and sat back, savouring what I saw. I think it took almost fifteen minutes before the reality set in.
I was done! The first draft was complete. I could take the week I had planned to fulfill a couple other deadlines I had on other projects.
I allowed myself a brief whoop of celebration and took the night off to reward myself.
Is the book done? No, not by a long shot. Lots of polishing and editing will happen over the next four weeks. Regardless, the written word can be edited. The stuff in my head cannot. "The End" is a major milestone that moves me toward a printed book. As such, they are as important as any words in the entire manuscript.