I finished my first book at the beginning. It's the first of a science fiction series. The ending came to me easily. I could feel that it was the end as I wrote it, and it felt wonderful. How naive I was; I thought I was finished! I wasn't. I'm now doubting it's possible to finish a book; finish in an 'I'm entirely satisfied with this' type of way.
I realise that I'm contradicting my opening line, but it feels true nonetheless. Today I finished. My opening chapter, rewritten countless times, was written for the last time today...I hope. I have that feeling of pure excitement, but I've been wrong before.
And now, reading it, it really doesn't matter whether or not literary agents fall in love with my first line. I love it. It is the opening chapter I wanted to write. I know my main character approves. So why would it matter what someone else thinks?
I guess it comes down to why I write.
I write for my story. I write for the characters living in my mind. I write because, if i didn't, the words whirling about in my mind would clog it up completely.
While publishing seems like the logical next step to finishing a book, I don't think it should ever be the sole point. Writing to get published is not writing; it's an enterprise. I imagine it feels like work, like a chore. I hate chores. And it must be stifling. All that worrying about how agents, editors, and readers will respond must really throw a rod into the creative cogs. Or maybe freeze them entirely. Liquid nitrogen poured over that creative process anyone?
Getting back to my point, I write for me. I will be supremely happy when I have completed my series; when I have told the story that I, who loves reading, would love to read. Once I achieve that I will print out each book, design a cover, and they will exist in my bedroom if nowhere else. That sounds so sad! But I would take it over altering the story for the sake of marketability. I would change how some parts are told, of course. I would work with an editor. But change the actual story? Nuh uh. The story simply is. It doesn't change.
With that mentality, the search for an agent or publisher becomes a calm affair. Rejections mean that one person didn't love it. But I do, and that is what will keep me safe. While I would be happy with the books existing in my room, I would love for millions of people to read and love them. And for that, I need to enter the alarmingly-slim-chance-of-success world of publishing.
Now that I have finished the beginning, I'm ready to step into that world.
"Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self." Writer Cyril Connolly.