Typing “The End”

I am thinking all authors would agree that one of the high points in writing our stories is to type “The End” in bold print at the bottom of that final page. Maybe it is just me, but I always flash onto the scene in Romancing the Stone when Joan Wilder types those words – on a real typewriter no less – and is dissolving into tears while searching high and low for a tissue. I love that scene! Of course, until recently it was just a humorous moment in a movie with no relationship to my life. Now I have typed those words a few times, most recently two days ago. And let me tell you, it is a fabulous feeling!

PhotobucketOf course, we know that just because we type “The End” it really isn’t the end. We will read it over a few more times before we click the attach and send buttons. We will add a little bit here, take away something there, find some typo or misspelled word, all before we are satisfied enough to turn it over to our editor. And then it will be picked over by a series of editors (praise God!) who will find more sentences and paragraphs or – heaven help us – whole sections or chapters that need to be rehashed. Hopefully it will not be too agonizing and the finished, published product will not vary too much from what we submitted.

Yet for all the work that is ahead of us before that shiny bound novel is in our hot little hands, the real challenge is going from a vague concept in our head that starts with some “It was a dark and stormy night” catchy beginning sentence to typing “The End.” When we get there we aren’t fretting over the work to come. Rather we are leaping for joy at the incredible sense of accomplishment. Like Joan Wilder we are overcome with emotions.
I have typed “The End” after four novels with surging emotions each time. Relief, happiness, satisfaction, giddiness, touches of fear and doubt, and a whole lot more that I am not sure there are names for. The journeys from inception to completion differed and the challenges varied along the way, making each process special. But for me the prior undertakings were similar in many respects whereas this recent “The End” came after a totally unique experience in several fundamental ways.

First off, I was writing a novella. Early in my writing endeavors I wrote two short stories that have now been incorporated into the whole of my saga. I suppose that gave me some experience. However, this time I had a specific word count to keep in mind and that was a very new phenomenon for me. It is one thing to dream up a great story and jot down a hazy outline, and another thing entirely to pull it off within an allotted boundary! “Anywhere from 20-30,000 words” sounds like loads of wiggle room until you get down to those final few thousand and realize you have so much left to say. Yikes!

Secondly, I was given a particular theme to write about. Actually, this was the easiest part for me. My wonderful editor Deb approached me for a Darcy Christmas themed novella that is to be part of an anthology released next year. She was receptive to any direction I wanted to take as long as Christmas and the Darcys were in there somewhere. Oh my! The possibilities are endless when one thinks about it! Yet at the same time for me this was a first: Being asked to write within a specific topic. But since Christmas is my favorite holiday and I had already written of the Darcys celebrating Christmas twice, it was easy for me to come up with ideas. Perhaps too easy! I needed to rein in the numerous thoughts and keep it cohesive with its own plotline.

Third, I was writing under a deadline for the first time. I know, I know…. Several of my writer friends are going to heave rotten tomatoes smack on my head for that one! Sorry!! But for me this was a unique experience. And one I am not sure I liked! Yes, it was good to have that discipline, I have discovered. When Deb broached the subject way back in June, getting a mere 30,000-word novella done by the end of the year (or Nov. 19 as it ended up) sounded like AGES away. No problemo! Heck, I had nearly half of it written before Nationals in July! So what happened? Well, there were vacations to take, conferences to attend, family crisis to deal with, blogs to write, a book to launch, and that pesky RL job to show up for. Oh, and family! Yep, they require some attention! Suddenly that looming date circled in bright red on my calendar was creeping closer and closer. The upside is that I learned to buckle down and get serious, even if that meant turning off the email alert and Facebook chat!

Fourth, my novella was the first undertaking after the release of my debut novel. Somehow the expectations felt different. Maybe most of that was in my head, but with what I hope is a long career stretching out ahead of me and with readers potentially waiting anxiously for the next Sharon Lathan written story (Hey, I can dream!), I felt a keen sense of pressure to perform. Ha, performance anxiety! Something none of my male characters will ever suffer from, but I was occasionally flustered by this annoying voice in the back of my head yammering at me. Sometimes that voice sounded like the critics, sometimes it was my editor, sometimes it was my praising fans, and sometimes it was my own doubt and indecision. Valid or not, like it or not, gone are the days of writing blithely only for my pleasure. I do have others to consider beside myself. *sigh Yet, as I stare at the typed “The End” to my 29,957-word novella that I have titled, “Reflections of Christmas at Pemberley,” I am satisfied. I really love it! I am confident that Deb will love it and feel it fits perfectly into the themes for this anthology. I know my faithful fans will adore it. I have hope that new readers will smile at the glimpses of Christmas with Jane Austen’s beloved characters that I have given them. And I no longer fret over the critics! LOL! Whatever hair-ripping work may be ahead of me, I have accomplished something remarkable in reaching The End.

In due time I will share more of the specifics of the novella here on the website. It won’t be released until mid-November of 2010 so chatting about it now is far too premature! For now I just wanted to share my joy with all of you here at the Darcy Saga. And share a few of the beautiful images of Christmas that helped inspire me in writing Reflections of Christmas at Pemberley.

 

7 Comments for Typing “The End”

  1. Dear Sharon,

    all you wrote about your novella sounds so wonderful. I can´t wait to read it. November 2010 is so far away! Christmas is my favourite time of the year, too and together with the Darcys it is just perfect.

    The pictures are beautiul, it seems that we are looking through the windows of Pemberley and see Lizzy, William and their children.

    All my best wishes for tomorrow!!

    Susanne

  2. Thanks ladies. I know I can count on my friends for continued support.

    I am very excited about this novella! I want to share more, but the truth is I really don’t know much beyond what I had to write. I am sure once the new year arrives and Sourcebooks puts the Spring 2010 season to rest and turns to focus on Fall, I will have more details. Same with "Seasons of Romance." We have to keep our energies on one period and novel at a time!

    Now I can turn to preparing for the launch of "The Darcys at Year’s End" and then finish up the 5th novel. Gotta have a plan!

    Lisa, thanks for joining in. 🙂

  3. Sharon,

    You’re not dreaming – I ( and I’m sure MANY others) can’t wait to read your next novel!! Thank-you for such awesome books to read. You do an excellent job transporting us back to that era and making us feel like we’re in it! I’m sure the novella will be great, especially because it is centered around Christmas. So far, I’ve thought your first 2 novels were great. Congratulations on your accomplishments!!

    Lisa

  4. Thank you for sharing your story with us on your latest project and such wonderful pictures!
    Congratulations on your novella for next year. It seems so far away, but we will be busy reading your other books and essays and then Voila your novella will be here!!

  5. Hi Sharon!

    Thank you for sharing your journey about your novella with us. As usual, you always keep us so well informed with what you are doing and how you are feeling during your creations. November of 2010 sounds so very far away but will be here before we know it. I am anxiously looking forward to reading this latest endeavor of yours.

    Thank you, dear friend, for keeping us in the loop. Now you can breathe a little easier looking at your "The End". Another accomplishment under your belt.

    Take care and God Bless.

    Esther

  6. Thank you Sharon. As always you spread your joy to all of us!
    I cannot wait to read your Novella! It sounds like it will be enchanting. You have such a gift for writing, so even reading your thoughts throughout this essay is magical. I loved reading it.
    You take me to a place where it feels like dreams can come true. Your passion and joy for writing is obvious.
    Your essay made me giggle "performance anxiety" and lack thereof for your manly men, you’re such a riot!
    And yes I await anxiously for anything my fav author delivers, because it is sure to take me to some wonderful scene that I can lose myself in.
    Keep up all your brilliant work dear friend!
    TSBO devotee
    Vee

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