When You’re Finished

This morning, instead of sitting down to tap out four more pages of the novel that has taken five years so far, I snapped 161 typed pages into a binder with some index cards, two hundred blank sheets of loose leaf and a zipped pocket with a red pen tucked inside.

Yesterday morning, I finished my rough draft.

It isn’t very pretty.

It probably needs more work than I can comfortably imagine from my current cloud nine.

But it’s finished, and seeing it sitting there an inch thick in pages I can turn gives me a chance to sit back in this chair and think ‘look at what I’ve done.’

If you have been writing, when you press that last period and lean back in your chair, print out what you’ve done. Print out what you’ve spent days and weeks and months of your life uncovering, so you can hold all that work in your hands. Make all the early mornings, late nights, forgotten dishes, cups of coffee and Skype conversations with friends where you can talk of little else a tangible, real thing.

It doesn’t matter if no one will ever read the copy.

It doesn’t matter if it’s so terrible, you’ll never look at it again (though I strongly suspect that if you’ve spent this much time on your story, letting it go won’t be that easy).

Printed pages give all that work weight.

And you deserve it.

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