Step One: The Aftermath

As I wrote the last few words of my story down onto my computer, I felt a moment of calm. I had finished a story that had taken a year to write. The characters had done what they had set out to do. The plot came to, what I thought of, as a great ending. And there was nothing more that I wanted to do with it. I took a few deep breaths and waited, staring at the computer screen. The last line glared back.

It was perfect.

But, before I knew it, my calm was replaced by other emotions – a whole bunch of them.

The first thing that I felt was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I had actually created a 300,000 word story. Starting with nothing more than an idea for the first scene, I had sat at my computer everyday and hadn’t stopped until it was finished. For me, this was huge since I had usually stopped at the first scene in all of the other stories that I had attempted (and failed) to write. It was definitely something that I could be proud of.

Happiness came next. I suppose that this could be tied in with my sense of accomplishment, but it was actually something more than that. I was happy at the characters that I had created, the choices they had made, the way it had all turned out. I thought over some of the things that they had said and done and I couldn’t help but smile (even though the bulk of my story is anything but a happy one).

Then, came the sadness. It was strange to feel this after all that I had done, but there was the sense of loss that I wasn’t going to be with these characters anymore. For the time being, they had come as far as they were going to go and I would have to leave them there.

And, finally, there was fear. Several questions had started to pop into my head: Were people going to like it? Was it going to get published? Would an editor want me to change everything? I couldn’t help but worry about these things no matter how much I loved the story, myself.

The emotions whirled around inside of me. One after the other. Sometimes overlapping. Sometimes in short bursts. Sometimes for long stretches of time. And, so far, these emotions haven’t stopped. If anything, they’ve gotten stronger and, often, more difficult to handle.

Those questions I had asked earlier still run through my mind. Though now concerns about query letters, agents, and the possibility of self-publishing have been added. They have brought about panic and doubt. And I still feel that sense of loss at no longer spending time with Adam, Jane, Claire, Shelly and all of the other characters who I came to know on such an intimate basis. (I really do miss them.)

But, luckily, the good emotions are still there, too. And with them has come a renewed sense of excitement. I look forward to getting my book out there and having others read and enjoy it; even if I have to use something other than the traditional route. Actually, after spending sometime looking around online, it seems like the opportunities are endless and, more than that, encouraging.

Yes, the emotions are hard and confusing. But, I know that it’s all part of the process, something I need to accept and, as strange as it might sound, maybe even enjoy. I have definitely learned new things about myself in this process, things that will help me grow as a writer and as a person.

And it’s only the beginning…

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