Another Blank Page

When I finish a first draft, there are a few things that always happen. The first is a happy-dance, though my version looks less like a dance and more like the moment after Kevin realizes he made his family disappear—running, arm waving, and since I tend to finish drafts in the middle of the night, silent screaming. When I was in theatre, I always said there was no feeling like the curtain going up. This is the closest I’ve ever come to it. I’m done! I celebrate until I need my inhaler.

The second thing that happens is not so fun. The silent scream of excitement becomes a silent sob, and I plop down wherever I stopped running and stare at the wall. It’s like the moment when I’ve read the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I realize it’s over. I still have questions. I’m not finished being in that world. How can it be over? But it is. I’ve spent so much time living in my made-up world that the real world is too dim for me. I open a blank page in Word and stare at it. It isn’t the same as opening a work in progress. It’s frightening. I start a few lines and then pummel the backspace button. It’s too soon. I close it, scoffing when my computer asks if I want to save the blank page.

The next step is a drive down memory lane. I open every manuscript I’ve ever started and read all of the short ones and then follow by reading the opening chapters of the long ones. I remember that I’ve been caught up in other stories, other characters’ struggles, and other worlds. I may get sucked in enough to revise one of them, but mostly I just look through it all and try not to think about the book I’ve just finished. The urge to open it and start reading is overwhelming. But I swear this time I’ll take King’s advice and let that manuscript sit. This step goes on for days. I clean the house. I paint something. And then I give up.

I’ve seen so many posts about why writers write that I feel there could hardly be more to say on the matter. But the simplest way I can put it is that I write because I love doing it. I write for the same reason a mountain climber climbs and a couch potato watches TV all day. I love it, I love it, I love it. I’m addicted to the whole process. I can’t wait to stare at the blank page again, and I can’t wait for the storm of words. I can’t wait to look it over and find too many adverbs and too many uses of the word “seemed” and strangle them out of my manuscript. I can’t wait for feedback from beta readers, and I can’t wait to run around crazy and then cry like a baby.

The last step is a brief return to blogging, where I tell the world that I’ve finished my draft, and now I need something new to do. It’s the moment when I admit to myself that no amount of vacuuming or painting will keep me from opening up a blank page and doing what I love.

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~ by Rachel McMahon on August 27, 2013.

2 Responses to “Another Blank Page”

  1. I lover it when you dance! Your happiness brings me happiness!

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