I can't even summon the words to describe how this feels. I guess I'm a mixture of:
- Elated. I've wanted to write this series for so long, and it was one of those strange, wonderful moments when a book wants to be written so much it tries to write itself, like I was possessed (heh). Even when I was stuck in the Costa Rican jungle with no internet access and only one small notebook and a few cheap pens (and no access to the first half of the draft!), I still finished the first book. Even with all the final-year stress at university, with a dissertation rearing its ugly head over me, I still wrote books 2 and 3 whilst studying for my exams, and started Book 4 after my exams were over. And now, after a marathon summer of writing (whilst juggling internships, freelance stuff, and the unpredictable insanity of life!), I'm done. Book 5 is finished. And hell, it was hard work. But so worth it!
- Confused. What am I doing with my life?! This is my standard response to finishing a book, which involves wandering around staring at walls and wondering vaguely what to do with myself. This, multiplied five-fold because I'm at the end of a SERIES.
- Overwhelmed. Major editing awaits, and I still don't feel like I've done the story total justice. I'm thrilled with how most of it turned out, but there are some things nagging at me, demanding that I fix them. And the thought of rereading the entire series all the way through again...well, I'll save that for later. As Stephen King wisely advises, letting a first draft stay in a drawer for a bit is always a great idea!
I have a strange relationship with first drafts. On the one hand, drafting's my favourite part of the process, and seeing the images in my head come to life is just...amazing. But there's so much anxiety involved, too, chief of which is the dreaded, totally irrational worry: What if I don't finish? What if the story falls apart? No matter how much planning I do, I'm always afraid the story will crash and burn. It's happened before, with the first few novels I attempted, and with a book I started writing at the end of last year (yes, that was the sequel to The Puppet Spell, but I think that might have been more to do with an overall lack of confidence due to the first book's less-than-stellar sales performance, and my subsequent hair-tearing about mounting debts, than the actual book...). I know the usual reason is losing interest in the idea, which was never going to happen with Darkworld, but after six years of starting projects and not finishing them, it's a fear I've yet to shake off!
I've described writing as like walking a tightrope between hope and fear before, and I stand by that. Hope is the beacon that guides you towards the end of a project. Fear is that the rope will tip before you reach the end. Yeah, dramatic metaphor, I know...but it's true. Writing scares me, I admit it. But it's the best thing in the world, and I wouldn't have it any other way! And finishing this series is like getting to the end of that tightrope and feeling the adrenaline rush! I've completed a vision that's been sitting in a corner of my brain for years. And I'm going to hold onto that.