OK, so now what?

May 23, 2009
It’s an obvious enough question. I still woke up at 5 o’clock this morning, even though I’ve no more book to write. Here I am, twiddling my thumbs, and finally doing some blogging. (Whether that’s a good thing or not is open to debate.)
Well, here’s what going to happen next:
  1. I’m going to spend the long weekend with my manuscript, having a last think about it all, and then it will be sent off to my agent Bruce on Tuesday. After that, I hope there will be something actually worth writing about as we begin the process of hawking the book around publishing houses, both in London and New York.
  2. In the meantime, I will go in mourning. Two different flavors of remorse here: I have lived with my characters for five years, and they’re finally gone. I got rather fond of most of them and I’m sorry to see them go. Secondly, I’m bidding goodbye to the possibility of making the book any better. Novels can always be improved, whether in big or small ways, but at some point the author has to slam that door shut. It’s a scary thing to do.
  3. Thirdly, I’m going to start thinking about the next book. Already lots of ideas flying around.
  4. There will, inevitably, be more blogging.
  5. I may even do more (legal) work, at least for a while.
  6. Finally, I’m going to become a reading fool.
It’s pleasing to have the manuscript finally completed, but oddly I don’t feel especially happy about it. There’s still a long way to go, and my private little project of the last five years is about to enter the public realm. I’m apprehensive.
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Eureka!

September 9, 2008
Today was kind of a big day for me and my little ole book.
I’ve spent more than three years on this baby, painfully cranking out the 130,000-odd words that constitute my fifth novel, whose working title is Paradise.  (5 second pitch: “Absolom Absolom meets The Sound of Music.”)  And all this time, I’ve been wondering: how on earth am I ever going to end this thing?  I had in mind a final scene which involved telling quite a funny joke, but was never quite sure how to get there.
It’s a high-risk strategy, this kind of stunt.  “Writing organically” is one way of putting it.  “Typing into the void” is another.  I really should know better, too: when I was living in London I once spent six months writing myself into a dead end of a story line, which I had to abandon and start all over again.
After that debacle, I promised myself that I would always know where I was going in the future – plots all meticulously charted on timelines, that sort of thing.  Anyway, that was obviously a bust, and as the book has grown I’ve become increasingly anxious that I may have screwed up again, with all these lovely words and characters and nifty story lines, but nowhere to go.  So I have spent the last few mornings staring into space, thinking as hard as I could, trying to make some tough decisions.  And, rather to my surprise, this morning everything seemed to fall neatly into place, and, as Dickie Smothers would say, viola.  I have a plan, an exit strategy.
Now all I have to do is write the damn thing.