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What did you feel like when you finished writing your first novel?

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writers Support Group every month. Go to his blog to see the other participants, and understand what the group is all about.

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I’ve been away the past two weeks, traveling, writing, offline. I wrote the last two chapters of my novel. They came easily, but also gave me a lot of anguish. I don’t know how much of myself I’ve put in the novel, in the characters, or the plot, but it is clear that parts of it upset me. The darkness of the subject matter, I suppose. Nearly all my writing has dark undertones. Though I almost always end on a note of hope, it is definitely painful for me and those who live with me!

tside my window in Malaysia

The view outside my window in Malaysia

This time, I had a beautiful horizon to gaze at while I wrote (thanks to a very kind Malaysian friend who lives in front of this view), so the words came easier. Something about gazing at the open seas makes me feel small, unimportant, and with little responsibility. That’s how I want to feel sometimes — because then the onus of finishing, say, a 91,000-word manuscript, is not so much on me. The sunsets were gorgeous, and made me think not-so-sadly of the sunset of my characters.

Sunset from my Malaysian window

Sunset from my Malaysian window

I lay down and did not get up for four days after I finished, flattened out by a series of backaches and headaches after I came back home. No amount of stretching and medication helped, so I went into hibernation. I’ve emerged after the weekend, shaky, sore, and ready to take on the world. I’m not sure what caused the systemic breakdown, but I’m glad it’s over.

Now, a break while I brush my blogs (namely, the A to Z Challenge — sign up now, if you haven’t already!), short stories, my reading, and my life. Then it is back to the novel — the grind of revisions, of edits, re-writes, more revisions.

What have You been up to in the last month?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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30 Comments

  • I felt so…confused when I finished my novel. I remember typing the last sentence, staring at the screen for a few seconds and then opening a new document and immediately starting my next one! (I was a bit overtired that night haha)

  • Yatin says:

    Not a professional write but I can relate the experience after accomplishing a major project. Yes I do take a break before the jitter starts about how it will perform in production.

    • Damyanti says:

      I’m all jittery, Yatin, so I’ve decided not to think about it for a month. I’m hoping that will help!

  • Like, “Cool! Um… What now?”

  • Glad it inspired you to write even if the process was painful.

  • jackeiden says:

    Actually, you never finish a novel until it’s published and then it’s too late. Thanks for the kind words on Recovering

  • Hart Johnson says:

    Oh, man–congrats on finishing your book, and if it took that much out of you, I bet it’s FABULOUS. Sorry though, about the painful post-mortem! I do envy your setting there…

  • Do you think it could be grief, or similar to having an art show, I feel exhaustes almost like giving birth.

  • Gargi Mehra says:

    My thought echo Carissa’s. I’ve finished two novels and I always feel a bit nonplussed at the end, expecting it to have been more of a grand event. It’s very exciting, because I know the end for months and am working toward it. But once ‘The End’ is written, I’m like ‘Meh. What do I do now?’

  • It’s awesome that you finished your manuscript. I keep saying I am going to write my book and have just never started. This month I finished up another graduate course. Classes always keep me busy.

    Visiting from A to Z Challenge. This is my first year participating.
    Transformed Nonconformist

    • Damyanti says:

      Classes need to be attended, too. I did my share of them,long ago 🙂

      Welcome on board the challenge! Your blog would never be the same again!

  • Carissa says:

    I always feel a little deflated when I finish a writing project. I think somehow, in my mind, I build up this grand idea of what it will feel like when I finish. That I’ll be elated and excited and relieved … and I build it up so much that when it finally comes time, what I feel just falls a little flat. But in the aftermath – after I collapse for awhile and immerse myself in baking or crafting or a holiday or sleep … then I start to like it again.

    • Damyanti says:

      I think this is what happened to me, too. I was working on pure adrenalin for months, and in the end, I just collapsed.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    I’m glad for the progress you’ve made. I wish I could say the same. I’ve been spending a lot of frustrating and circular time trying to get my computer working in optimal order for April. I think my computer is actually making me ill at times. Scary.

    Lee
    Writers Workshop
    An A to Z Co-host blog

    • Damyanti says:

      Lee, so sorry to hear that. Would you consider replacing your computer? Nothing is worth making you ill.

      • Arlee Bird says:

        My current financial situation prevents me from investing in a new computer at this time and actually my current computer is probably fine–I just don’t know enough about computers to effectively fix it quickly. This will be my #iwsg post tomorrow in fact.

        And this specific computer is not making me ill, but I think excessive time is having a somewhat ill effect–too much time sitting, looking at the screen, and all the other computer related things. I’ve started dreaming computers at night and thinking in computer format. It’s like a science fiction story. I’m addicted–it’s a love/hate relationship. But maybe not as bad as I’m making it sound.

        Lee

        • Damyanti says:

          Wishing you all the best with your computer than. I’m just thinking, with AZ, your addiction is going to get So much worse!

  • Damyanti says:

    I haven’t begun my first rewrite yet — wish you luck with your book!

  • susielindau says:

    I can’t wait to finish mine. I am working on its 200th rewrite. I should finish in a couple weeks then off it goes to beta readers!

  • I always feel a little lost when I finish a novel. It’s like Now what? After so long working on one story it can feel surreal to have the first draft finished.

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