Finishing a big project is a funny thing. First of all, it's incredibly hard to know when you are finished as a writer, unless the option to make changes is taken away from you... say if your book is actually published and for sale in book shops. Even then, you can still make changes, but what's the point, really? But up until you get that magic 'Yes', it sometimes feels like you may be moving those commas around forever.
For all intents and purposes, right at this moment, Between the Sleepers exists in a temporary 'finished' state. I know that there will be more work to do, but I hope that the next time I work on it, it may be under the guidance of an agent or publisher. Who knows though, it could just be me and my red pen working on draft number twelve...
The other thing that is funny (as in funny strange, not funny haha) about having finished a project is the sense of being untethered that comes with it. I've been working on that book on and off now for pretty much a decade, though I haven't been working on it solely that whole time. No matter what else I have been working on, I have always come back to those characters and what they are up to. This time actually feels a bit different. I am not sick of them, but I feel like they have been fully fleshed out and that I have given them a good story and a good ending... which means that it's time to start something new.
I realised the other night that I have been rewriting this novel for so long that I don't remember what it's like not to have a novel on the go. What did I used to want to write about before I started working on Between the Sleepers? I don't know, though I do have some memories of the 'mini-novels' I wrote as a teenager, once of which (urban fantasy about body-swapping that was truly terrible) I actually sent to a publisher and received nice correspondence about, possibly because they could see I was only 15.
Ideas are fickle creatures. Sometimes you have so many of them that it's hard to keep up and write them all down. It seems some days like the more ideas you have, the more you get, like the ones you have time to write properly bring their friends and you end up with an unruly idea party. And then other times, you sit down at the computer thinking 'okay, time to write' and nothing happens. I like the idea that you need to fill the well before you can start another book. That's quite a comforting way to think about it. That you need to read a lot of things and do a lot of new things and talk to a lot of new people in order to be as full of material and thoughts and words and 'newness' to write the next book as you were when you sat down to write the first. That you are not a tap that can just be turned on and books come out of you on demand.
So, for now, I am well-filling, and I am starting down that path of re-discovery once more. Excited to start a new book and a little unsure if I'll be able to repeat the magic trick, but hoping I can-- because to be truly immersed in a project is a wonderful thing, and I am looking forward to getting there again.