Done or Dead? DONE!

There are authors, or so I’ve heard, who work at a nice, steady pace, and writing the end of a book is no different than writing the middle of the book.

That’s not me. It does not matter how long I’ve been working on the book, how steadily up to that point, how smoothly (or not) it’s been going. The last week of work is crazy. Full immersion, all take-out, no laundry, little sleep, (few showers)…

It’s not necessarily an issue of OMG I have so much work to do before the deadline. (Though… well. Sometimes.) It’s more a case of being the zone, immersing myself in the book-world for the last push to completion, and not letting anything take me out of it. Not errands, or cooking, or laundry… Eating is a distraction, and even if I’d like to sleep, I spend the night staring at the ceiling thinking about the book, so I might as well be up working on it.

We call it ‘done or dead’ mode here at Chez C-M, and everyone hates it, but they’re pretty supportive. Mom holes up in her rooms and says a lot of rosaries. I’m not sure if it’s for me finishing the book, or to keep from killing me. (I admit, I’m like a hibernating bear and will attack if you get in my cave at this point.) Mr. RCM picks up take out. I stock up on dog food, coffee, soy milk and people chow (aka Go Lean cereal, which I live on during done or dead mode. That and Smarties.)

So when I finish a book, I feel a lot like Rip Van Winkle. I’ve been in another place, and I’m surprised to find the world has been going on without me. I don’t know what’s going on in the news (What’s the deal with Tiger Woods? Do I want to know?). My fridge is empty, the sink (and counter) is full of coffee cups and the garbage can is fully of take-out wrappers. My car battery is dead because I haven’t left the house in a week, but I do have clean clothes, because I’ve been wearing sweats and pajama pants the whole time. I cannot see the top of my desk, because it’s covered with mail, catalogues, printed and scribbled on manuscript pages, and sticky notes everywhere.

So the first thing I have to do when I finish a book is take a shower. Then eat something. Then put coffee cups in the dishwasher. Then look at my e-mail and who hates me because I haven’t answered them in two weeks. Then excavate my desk and make sure they’re not going to turn off the gas or water because I haven’t paid the bill. (I do pay bills before I go into ‘done or dead’ mode but for some reason, more of the darn things are always coming.)

Normally I go to the grocery store, but my car battery is dead.

And THEN, when I’ve taken care of the dogs, the laundry, the most pressing business, then I take care of myself. I get a massage to work the kinks out of my shoulders. I get a celebratory piece of cheesecake. I catch up on all my TV shows and the movies I’m behind on. (I finally get to set up Beatle’s Rock Band! Oh, Rock Band, how I’ve missed you!)

But really, I can only handle a day or two of that. My mind is already brimming with ideas for new books, new projects, new adventures for beloved characters. But first there are Christmas decorations to put up, and baking to do, and shopping and errands, and grocery shopping and laundry and dishes and I have to get a new battery in my car and…

And wow. I’m already sort of missing done or dead mode.

Question of the day: I know a bunch of you just finished with NaNoWriMo. How did YOU reward or pamper yourself afterward?

2 thoughts on “Done or Dead? DONE!”

  1. This is my most favorite by far of the writing process. I LOVE the end. I love when the ideas are flowing in my head faster than I can get them on paper.Now, the middle… that part and I usually have a big fight, a couple of break ups and a make up or two… but the end… I always love that end!So what kinds of ideas??? We're dying to know!


  2. I'm still reeling from the fact (a) I actually managed to finish NaNoWriMo and (b) the bad guy somehow managed to win. By default. It was weird.Looking forward to next year!


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