Sunday, July 17, 2005

On Writing: Finishing My Book

As you may have guessed by the sudden increase in my blog postings, I've finally left the hills of West Virginia and returned to New York City. After months of sitting and typing (and sitting and typing and sitting and typing), I've traded my beautiful view of the Appalachian foothills for this beautiful view of Times Square. Because, 447 pages and 124,013 words after I began writing my book, I have finally finished it (well, a draft of it anyway).

The day before yesterday, I walked into my editor's office and handed her a manuscript that weighed 19.5 pounds and was roughly the size of a New York City phone book. As you can see from this picture, taken moments before I turned in the book, I was a bit dingy from the whole thing (and sleep-deprived: note the bags under my eyes), but ecstatic. I've been working on this book for seven years -- the relief of finally getting it out of my head and onto paper is unlike anything I've ever experienced. I half-expect if I climbed on my bathroom scale, I'd actually weigh about 75 pounds lighter from finally losing all 124,013 of those words. And with this sudden lightness, I've found motion.

One thing you don't hear a lot about is how much writing actually hurts. Physically. I have been sitting in one place and typing for months. Years, really. But during this last push, I sat for months. I don't recommend this. Last night, I had a celebratory sushi dinner with my boyfriend and two of our friends, all of us writers, all of us finishing long book projects. To hear us whining about our writing related injuries was comical: My friend Mark rubbed his forearm between sips of champagne and asked if I could feel my fingers, because he couldn't feel his. They tingle, he said. Mine only tingle in the morning, I told him. David spent half the night standing next to the table because his back hurt too bad to sit; Marcela talked about how her body just shuts off, usually on Fridays, and she falls asleep no matter how much coffee she drinks. While we talked, I kept kicking my legs out from under the table with no warning because of hip cramps. At one point David had to massage Mark's back because of a spasm, I got in some weird yoga-like pose to stretch my hip, and suddenly we looked at each other like, Why are we sitting? So we ditched the table and the celebratory champagne and just walked. Which is all I've done since I turned in my book. I probably walked about six miles Friday, then another five or so yesterday. And I can't stop. Like I suddenly found water after being dehydrated for months. Which of course makes me think, Why am I sitting here typing? So on that note, I'm going for a walk.

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Blogger Carney Man said...

Hmm, good idea. Walk a couple of miles for me seeing as I gotta do some studying right now.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

Congrats on finishing! Can't wait to read it. You must be in seventh heaven or have you already moved on to the my-baby's-gone crushing depression? Hope not!

Yes, walking good. Sitting and typing? Not so much.

2:00 AM  
Blogger gualtiero piccinini said...

congratulations. i knew you were going to do it and i'm very happy for you.

now am i going to hear from you?

11:55 AM  
Blogger Permission To Grieve said...

I finished my book on Fri. my arms are sore, my hips are sore, but mainly my heart is sore.

It was very exciting and rewarding to finish, but now, I miss my friend---my book. After all, I spent more time with my book for the past few years than with anyone.
I'm staring out my window at the roosevelt island tram, after having spent months writing in paris.

5:02 PM  

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