I just finished the first draft of my next project, The Devil's Interval, and I need to celebrate. Hallelujah! There that's done. The thing about finishing the first draft is that it means very little. I have a story with a beginning, middle and end (at least I think I do.) I did an initial revision, more a shaping and sharpening than a deep edit. But now the hard work begins. I need to give it to people to read, people I trust to be honest, but not crappy, and then I have to sit with their feedback. It's not just that they may not like it - okay, it's entirely that they may not like it. It is a very vulnerable place to be when you are asking someone for meaningful feedback that doesn't cut your heart out. That step alone could take a couple of months.
I already know I need to cut around 25,000 words from the manuscript, but I don't want to start without understanding what works or doesn't. From previous work, I have a suspicion that some of what I like best will end up on the 'doesn't work' list, so it makes no sense to start those revisions now. My last manuscript went through fifteen revisions over three years before my agent (btw, that's a great thing to be able to say: 'my agent') was willing to take the project on. Thanks to Linda Langton and team at Langton's International for all the time they put into those multiple reviews. I believe I learned from that experience and have managed to avoid some of the pitfalls in my previous work, but it's petrifying to think I may have another three years of work before me to get this manuscript in shape.
Now I have to find something else to work on while I wait for notes on the finished draft. It can be difficult to start something new, especially when you work in fits and starts, dropping everything when you need to jump back into the book you are trying to finish. It can make it impossible to find the story, and it can create a very disjointed manuscript for the new project. Quite honestly, I started The Devil's Interval while working through all the revisions of Love (due out December 15 - you can save 15% with the promocode PREORDER2022 if you order before Dec 15 at https://www.blackrosewriting.com/literary/lovegriefanddesire ) and had four starts of anywhere from 5 to 12 chapters before I was able to really get the manuscript in place.
Finishing a draft is like breaking up, only already knowing you'll get back together. There are things you miss, and things you are glad to be free of, but most of all, you are just unsettled. Something important is missing from your life.