Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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Finishing Your Novel

Posted by Ben Erlichman on December 15, 2011

I finished my fourth novel on Friday. (Cheers) It was an interesting process–one I’d like to expedite going forward. I started writing the outline near the end of August and finished it at the beginning of December, meaning it took me roughly three and a half months from start to finish. Not bad, but I think I can do better.

My goal for this month is to revise the entire thing so my wife can read it starting January 1st. She is a huge Twilight fan (nobody’s perfect, right?) and my novel has vampires in it, so she’s anxious to read it. My vampires don’t sparkle, though.

Vampires don't sparkle. Fairies do. Draw your own conclusions. (He should be going up in flames right now.)

Anyway, I’ve come to realize that finishing my novels is an incredible feeling. I can remember my sheer elation at finishing my first one, The Dreamer, on Thanksgiving day of 2006 while home from college at my parents’ house watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I felt a comparable feeling, one more of relief than of joy, at finishing my second novel, Lions and Serpents, at the close of NaNoWriMo 2010. I was relieved to just be done with the thing. Finishing Unlucky, my third, gave me the feeling of having completed a long, painful journey inside the skin of my protagonist through the arid Arizona Territory in 1850.

Each experience was like a new flavor of ice cream: all tasty, but different. Upon completion of my vampire novel (tentatively titled Blood for Blood–don’t steal that or I’ll hunt you down), I experienced a feeling of relief similar to when I finished Lions and Serpents last year, but also an incredible satisfaction in knowing I had just completed my fourth novel. Wow. I’ve written four novels.

Ted Dekker gave me a hint at his Ragged Edge Conference in August:  the more books you have written, the more likely you are to get noticed by a publisher. Finishing your novel tells them that you can finish what you start. Finishing multiple novels tells them that you’re in this for the long run. Finishing more than 18 novels before you’re published (like my good friend Lynn Rush) is ridiculous, but hey, it works! I hope I don’t have to write 18 before I get pubbed, but I’m going to keep writing until I get there.

What about you? Is finishing your projects an issue? Do you get hung up on revising them? Is it hard to tie off all your loose ends at the end?

You can find a way to overcome those issues. I wish you the best as you try to do so.


3 Responses to “Finishing Your Novel”

  1. Congratulations, Ben!! That’s a wonderful feelings, finishing a novel. And i like how you put it. Different flavors, but all tasty.

    And I would dream of stealing your title. Yikes. You’re scary. ;-) Good title, by the way!

  2. Hmmm, let’s see: my fourth novel was the first one published. The second one published was my second one. The third one was my fifteenth; the fourth was my twenty-first and twenty-second. The fifth one coming next April was my fifth. I have my twenty-third and twenty-fourth started, and I have a bite to go back and work on what would be my twenty-fifth, but I hope to finish my twenty-sixth first, as it will hopefully come after number five. In between blogging and editing and magazine acquisitions. And teaching. Stuff. You can even ask me Who’s on Second; I can make up a good answer.

    • Ben Erlichman said

      Lisa, that’s killer! Someday I hope to have cranked out at least as many books as you’ve written throughout the course of your writing career.

      Is the feeling of completing the the same each time? Is it just as sweet of a sensation when you complete a new one as when you completed your first few?


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