The Final Word

There’s a real sense of achievement when you’ve written the last sentence, nay, the final word of a novel. It’s a feeling that you think will diminish the more you write. When I wrote my novella, Willow and the Motorway Horses, it was mostly for fun and wasn’t intended for digestion by the public – it’s out there on Amazon still – so I let the completion wash over me.

I had an idea kicking around in my head for a one woman show for many years but hadn’t tackled it in a serious way. Until then I’d just written a few monologues and ideas down. Then needing something to show the writers’ group, I began to write the story proper and 52 or as it’s also called, One More Week was born. I felt euphoric when I actually completed it, it didn’t matter that agents didn’t like the subject matter: Having cancer can never be humourous, or the fact it’s in the first person: Most readers’ prefer books in the third person, they find it hard to relate directly to the protagonist. And my favourite response: This would make a good stage play. However, we don’t handle scripts.

I thought the feeling would fade after that, but no, once I’d finished novel number two the same feeling of accomplishment flooded my consciousness. And now this week as I have finished the final draft of novel three I’m basking in the glow of achievement once again. It does help that I’ve written, (I think) my best novel yet. It’s gone from scribbling it down to two final drafts and it’s now ready to be … I’m not sure yet. To self-publish or send to agents, is a decision I need to mull over for now.

But as I relish the feeling of triumph, I’m looking back at my notes and the planning – I’m a great planner, everything from chapter outlines, timelines and character profiles. A skill passed on to me by Lorraine Mace, writer of the best selling DI Sterling series of books and an excellent creative writing mentor. It’s while I’m looking through my notes that I smile when I look at my word count spreadsheet:

And my list of all the names used in the novel, I keep a list so that I don’t replicate any names. I’m amazed how many names I have used in this book which is essentially about just five friends. Maybe it’s indicative of the many interactions we have in life that go unnoticed.

Finally, the solitary sense of pride felt when the final word is written is all part of the insular world of a writer. It’s at times a lonely job, but there’s always outside influences that have shaped the written work, other input that has encouraged it to grow and in my case it’s been the support of a writers’ group: a hotchpotch of genre writers. A mix of accomplished wordsmiths. I think of our group as a blender sat on the kitchen worktop filled with editors, illustrators and educationalists and publishers all whizzed up to create a smoothie filled with advice, criticism and honesty. And without any of this outside assistance I’d not be in the position I’m in now –

Grinning, with a smile in danger of collapsing in on itself because once again I have written that final word.

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