When Does This Book Become the Last?

I didn’t set out to write seven books.

In fact, as a trained journalist, I didn’t believe I was capable of writing one. My specialty was creating four hundred word essays in under fifteen minutes. That’s what journalists do in order to make a publishing deadline. Write quick, brisk, concise copy for a waiting audience.

The thought of writing an entire novel—90,000 words—made me shake my head. I couldn’t imagine doing such a thing. Yet here I am, seven books later, watching as my most recent story goes to print. The copy is in. The edits are complete. Now the publisher begins her magic by adding a cover, and approving the back of the book blurb and assigning the pre-release publicity to make the book known.

I stand, with my hands in my pockets, wondering what it is I am to do now.

I confess finishing a novel is a satisfying feeling. The effort has been exhausting, the research never ending, the last minute touches to make the prose shine ongoing. Suddenly my full days are empty, the time set aside for writing has nothing with which to fill itself.

I’m left with the question—should I begin again?

I’ve taken the last several weeks off. I needed to shed the tension that comes with completing a novel. Let my brain relax. Catch up on the closets and cupboards that needed attention. Read the books that waited for me to join them in another story world. Another author’s perspective is rejuvenating. Like a car getting gas at a pumping station.

Now I’ve done all that and I must ask myself if I want to move forward on this one more time. I already have a theme and a cast of characters. There’s nothing to hold me back.  But writing a novel is a commitment of at least a year of my life. After that comes the editing and the publishing process all over again. I’m not a spring chicken.  Will I become one of those authors who leaves behind an unfinished tale?

The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 9:10:  “Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might . . .the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong; neither is the bread to the wise, nor the wealth to the intelligent, nor the favor to the skillful. For time and chance happen to all. . .

Retirement plans face each of us, no matter what occupation we’ve pursued in life. Knowing when to make that leap is not always an easy decision. Is it time for my hands to be still?

Tell me, my dear readers, what would you do?




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