There are no real endings. An odd thing for a writer to say but this is what I’ve learnt since having a baby and getting a book deal with Transworld (not at the same time…though fairly close).
It’s easy to think as a yet-to-be-published writer that getting the book deal will be the happily ever after of your story. So driven are we by our dreams that we rarely look beyond what happens when the dream comes true.
This is also true for the first time mother. When you’re pregnant you are constantly looking forward to after the birth. You’re going to have a baby! You will have a reward for the stretch marks, the waddling and the inability to get out of bed without performing a gymnastic roll. Very rarely are first time mothers/parents prepared for the hard work that comes after the baby arrives. You simply can’t be. No matter what advice or thinly veiled threats people give you nothing will prepare you for the reality of having a baby.
At least getting a novel published has a bit more reliability to it. After the book deal comes edits, edits and more edits. As a published writer friend once said to me: “A book isn’t finished until it’s between two covers and put on the shelf.” Now the real work begins. You can no longer casually give yourself goals and then move them continuously forward when you miss them. There are actual deadlines and it means something if you don’t hit them.
And of course getting a book deal in itself does not mean your book will be successful. Old worries of how to get an agent and will you be rejected by publishers are now replaced with new worries; will readers like the book, will anyone outside your immediate family buy it.
But the real beauty is that, even though there are never any real endings there are still lots of wonderful beginnings and middles. With babies it’s the first smiles, the coos and gurgles and attempts at shoving every little thing in their mouths. With writing it’s working with an editor, knowing that the cover art is being designed, anticipating what reviewers will think the proof copies. It’s all part of the journey.
So maybe getting the book deal was not the end of my writing journey but, just like having a baby, more of a ‘to be continued…’