The package that arrived at my door yesterday afternoon looked like a perfectly ordinary, white bubble-wrap mailer. But the size and return address–my publisher–immediately gave it away: here was the final print version of The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare.
“I hope you’re excited to see your words in print,” wrote my editor.
Actually, my first reaction on holding a finished book in my hands is profound sadness, precisely because it is finished and I can’t work on it anymore. Counting the time spent in editing, it took five intense years to research and write that novel, and it’s like losing one of my closest friends to have to let it go.
I would love to hear from other writers: Do you feel a similar sense of loss or do you experience only elation when a book is published? Are you ever sick of a book by the time it’s done and glad to move on to something new?
Writing a novel isn’t always fun–sometimes it’s downright agony–and I will always ask myself what I could/should have done better. But in the end, writing for me is about the process, so there’s only one logical thing to do:
Keep working on the next novel.