An audio version of this post is available here.
My mental image of what it feels like to finish writing a book – don’t laugh, I can’t help it – is lifted from Romancing the Stone, where the lead character finishes writing her swashbuckling romance and swigs on a miniature booze.
I finished my book last night. Properly finished it. It doesn’t feel like I thought it would feel. I thought I would feel nervous about its future, jubilant, probably sad to be letting it go. I don’t feel those things. What I’ve got is an enormous sense of calm and stillness, and freshness. The only thing I can liken it to is stepping off an aeroplane into some warm and fragrant country at dawn, when it’s all still cool and a little grey, and you don’t know what’s to come, but you know it’s good.
I’m really pleased it’s done. I’m really pleased with it. It feels right. And what’s eerie is how all the mess it came from, all that before-the-book-was-started life, is now weightless. I am not carrying it any more. I’ve put it all in there. Not literally in the book (cor, imagine the law suits), but into the process of feeling it, writing it, and most importantly (and this is why it took so long, this is why no other book will ever take me so long), into the process of FINISHING it and letting it go.
Something twisted and important has left me, of late. Barbed wire stuck in me has grown out. This didn’t happen instantly, it wasn’t like “Eau! I finished the book and wow, I am a new person!” – which would be cheap and false. It was more a drawn out process of looking at the hurting things I held clutched to me, of identifying them and how they came to be, and what they meant to me, why I kept them, and dropping them, not as events in the past (they will always be that), but as parts of my self. I had hung onto those things all my life, and made a hobby of collecting new ones, in the hope that repeating the same wounds would allow me to understand and heal the first one. (We all do this.) The looking has taken me years. It could not have been quicker. The dropping process has just taken one year. This year. 2013 was the year of ends.
I am no longer a remainder in the process of long division, not outside the order of things. I have a place in it. It has a space for me. That’s an amazing feeling, if you’ve never felt it.
And somehow, it doesn’t call for booze, or anything. It is a celebration, every minute of it. The life I make for myself now, after this, is the celebration.