I am living the dream right now.
The dream I had for so many long, strenuous months of writing and stressing, so many hours spent cursing at my computer screen, and dragging my laptop across the city, and worrying if scenes and words and sentences made sense.
My purest, most passionate dream during that time was to be done. To type the last word, email the first draft to my editor, and feel a tremendous sense of freedom.
I am still waiting.
I am waiting, first of all, for my editor to get back to me with her notes, a waiting that carries a whiff of doom -- not unlike a prisoner awaiting his execution.
But most of all I am waiting for that elusive sense of freedom, of joy, that I was sure turning in the first draft would bring me. Where are the showers of confetti, the millions of friends surrounding me with bottles of champagne, the bright sunny days of beaching and picnicking and eating cotton candy? Whenever I am writing, I envision my life post-writing as some sort of movie montage of Happiness.
One would think that, after having written several books, I would know better.
What I feel when I turn in a first draft is mostly exhaustion coupled with gnawing anxiety and the knowledge that the journey has only just begun. Whoever said there is no great writing, only great rewriting, was spot-on. The first draft is just the bare bones, the getting-down-on-paper. It's in the revision process that the real, painstaking labor begins--at least for me.
I spend those first days after turning in my first draft in a dazed state of mild shock, watching movies on TBS and venturing out for frozen yogurt. A few days later, I start to worriedly check my email, wondering when my editor is going to send me back her notes. As much as I dread those notes, I also welcome them, knowing that they will return me to my manuscript. Because, like all writers (I think), I both love and hate my manuscript in equal measure--I am wildly frustrated with my characters when they are in front of me, but I miss them terribly when they are out of my hands. Waiting for an editor's notes is a kind of limbo, almost Dante-esque. Neither heaven nor hell.
My editor emailed me with a status update yesterday--she will either have her notes to me by the end of the week, or first thing Monday. In either case, I will be spending this weekend in the Berkshires, and I think--I hope--that being away from the scenes of the crime (i.e. my apartment and the various coffee shops where I wrote) will do me a world of good. I will breathe in the fresh crisp mountain air. I will swim in the clear swimming pool. And I will try my best to be patient...and find the joy in the waiting.