What is finished?

I am reminded so, so, so, so often that for a writer, finished is a celebratory word that doesn’t translate well into the rest of society.

me: “I finished my novel!”

someone who is not a writer: “Oh wow that’s great! When can I buy it?”


So never mind that me finishing a novel doesn’t mean that anyone will buy it…that it will necessarily make it into a book store or library ever anyway. Just put that aside.

Because “finishing” a novel for a writer is…well…it’s not really finishing at all. When I say, I finished my novel, what I mean is, I finished a draft of my novel. Which doesn’t sound exciting. But it is SO exciting. For me it means I get to step away from it for a while, do some non-writerly things, like organize recipes or hem curtains or take a trip to the beach. It also means I’m usually sending it off to someone else to read. Literally – pushing it off my desk. Maybe it’s a critique partner or maybe my agent or maybe an editor. But someone else adds it to their To-Do list while I get to cross it off of mine.

For a while.

I know it’s going to come back to me. I know I will have to revise again. And again. And again. And again. Even after a contract is signed and an editor says, “I love it!”, there will still be so many more revisions. But at each point along the way, finishing up that draft…it is cause for celebration. It means I accomplished what I set out to do. I fixed those broken things I saw. I took care of what needed to be done.

So…wait for it…


Now you can clap with me. Because now you know what it means.