If I’m reposting this article, then it means one of the following has just happened:
1. I just finished the first draft of a new novel.
2. I just finished the final draft of a novel.
3. I just got an agent to represent me.
4. I just published a novel.
5. I just sold a screenplay.
If you’re the betting kind, I’d wager on one of the first two, because 99% of the time that’s what I’m celebrating. Besides, if I publish a novel or sell a screenplay, the party’s gonna include something stronger than Peach Schnapps…
Very few things are guaranteed in the life of a wannabe. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 listed above sure as hell aren’t. But one thing is for sure – I finish what I start. I don’t get tired halfway through a writing project and give up. When I start a novel, I will finish it. And that’s a big deal. Whatever happens to the book after that really isn’t under my control no matter how hard I work to market it to agents and publishers.
I once spoke to another wannabe writer who had a bottle of champagne chilling to only be opened on the day of her book launch. Like me, she didn’t even have an agent yet. It’s a nice idea to have the bubbly ready for when your book gets published…but what if that day never comes?
This kind of thing reminds me of Erma Bombeck’s essay entitled “If I had my life to live over”. One particular line always stuck with me for some reason. It was “I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.”
The point is – what are you waiting for?
As they say, tomorrow is promised to no one.
Well, today I finished a novel. It’s time to celebrate. Now. Not when some agent or publisher or editor tells me it’s okay to celebrate.
And what if you wait until the book launch to celebrate and it’s not everything you thought it would be? If you think publishing a book means you’re no longer a struggling writer, you’re gonna be sorely disappointed. (reality check – – most published authors have day jobs and many first novels won’t earn out their advance). I’m a big believer in celebrating every victory you can because they can be very few and far between in the wannabe life.
Instead of champagne, my drink of choice for writerly victories is peach schnapps. The main character in my favorite novel that I’ve written drinks straight shots of peach schnapps, so now so do I. It’s funny. I’d never even tasted the stuff until Henry started drinking it…
Anyway, I keep a bottle of schnapps on hand only for special writing-related events. I drink a shot whenever I finish novel draft, get an especially good review of my manuscript, or receive any other kind of good writing news. For example, the time a NYC literary agent told me my novel had a “strong chance of publication” was definitely a schnapps-worthy event.
I even have a special schnapps-only shot glass I made at the pottery loft…
I find I really like the smell of peaches now because it smells like good news.
Another goofy tradition of mine is that every few months I like to settle down with a few beers (okay, many beers..) And watch one of my favorite movies – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – – – just for funsies. It occurred to me that I also tend to finish a novel draft every few months, so I decided to put the two traditions together.
So now when I finish a novel draft (or publish a novel….) I like to settle in with my drinks and watch the movie. There’s even a scene where the queens say ”chuggers!” and take a shot, which is the perfect time to break out the schnapps. It’s a really funny, feelgood type of movie (even more so when you’ve been drinking…) And it’s always such a fun way to celebrate finishing a novel. It’s important to me to take a little time to just be happy about finishing the book because the next step is to send out query letters and you never know how that’s going to go. I could publish this novel someday, but there is also the possibility that this could be the end of the line for this particular book. All the pages are freshly printed out on my desk and they may just stay there gathering dust forever. You just don’t know.
Here’s what I do know: I wanted to write a novel. So I did.
And I finished it today.
Bring on the schnapps.