Posted by: kimberlysullivan | January 23, 2015

How do you feel when you wrap up a writing project?

The endThis week, I’m wrapping up a writing project I should have concluded long ago.

This is a contemporary story I’ve loved writing about three very different expat women living in Rome, Italy. Their lives cross when they meet up at a  1950s movie night at an Italian seaside resort off-season.

Although my contemporary characters are quick to laugh at the technicolor dreams of the 1950s women carving out new lives for themselves in Rome, they soon learn that the on-screen drama doesn’t differ too radically from my characters’ own struggles to find happiness in the Eternal City.

This has been a challenging year for me personally, and I haven’t been successful in managing to write as regularly as I would have liked to this past year. This is odd for me. Although I don’t have much time in which to write, I do jealously guard it. I also tend to write quickly, so the first drafts don’t generally take me too long.

This manuscript, despite how much I enjoyed it, was an exception.

That’s why, as I write the final chapter this week, I feel a real sense of accomplishment and relief.

It’s not that I feared I couldn’t complete it. But I did wonder exactly when I would complete it.

I love that feeling of writing the final chapter, when all of the pieces start to come together. I love to feel the adrenaline I imagine marathon runners must feel (I wouldn’t know myself – I’m a runner, too, but one with absolutely no desire to run long distances) as they catch sight of that final stretch.

Often, I also feel a slight sense of loss. The characters have been speaking in my head so long that I’m sorry to let them go. Yes, I’ll be revising, but that’s different from creating them from nothing, watching the characters grow and change as my story takes shape.

This week, I’ll also say goodbye to my characters (although I’ll still be with them during the lengthy editing stage), but I find myself mostly relieved to be wrapping up a project that took me longer than I’d planned.

And you, writers? How do you feel as you wrap up a project? Relief, sadness, joy, a sense of loss, a sense of euphoria?  A combination of all of these? Or does it vary from project to project?



  1. Congrats to finishing your writing project, Kimberly! Even if it takes longer than we expect, there is something very gratifying about being able to write those last few words. Usually when I finish a writing project, I feel both excited and nervous–excited and happy that I accomplished my goal, and nervous/anxious that no one will enjoy reading or that I may never come up with another story idea again. Silly, I know, but it’s what goes through my mind. And then I congratulate myself with a glass of wine. 🙂

    • Thanks, Kim! Agree with you entirely with the mixed excited/nervous feeling when you wrap up a book. And I love that you celebrate with a glass of wine (not aquavit, eh?), showing what I already knew … like me, you’re part Italian at heart. : )

      • Aquavit is only for pickled herring. 😉

  2. Good work Kimberly. I know this feeling, although lately I’ve been writing short stories so the time you spend with characters is brief and intense. Like Kim, I also feel slightly worried I’ll never have an idea again!

    • Thanks, Catherine! Hard to believe that two prolific writers like you and Kim would ever worry you’d never have an idea again. I remember hearing the writer Francesca Marciano speak about short stories in Rome, arguing it’s even harder than novels, because you have to come up with so many story ideas, characters, etc … meaning lots and lots of ideas. : ) Keep them flowing, Catherine. When will your new collection be out?

  3. Finishing up a project is always exhilarating for me. Of course, only having finished 2, so far, I don’t have a huge amount of anecdotal evidence, haha. I will say that finishing my first felt much more momentous than the second, but I feel like this 3rd on I’m working on has potential to match that.

    Congratulations to you on completing this one! I am jealous of your apparent speed in drafting! Hopefully you enjoy the follow-up revision/editing process as much as I do. I always feel like it’s a way to hold onto my characters for just a bit longer, too. 🙂

    • Hi, Janet! Now that you’re working on your third, you certainly DO have a lot of anecdotal evidence. I think multiple MSs are important fo comparison purposes, and you have some experience to fall back on when you hit rough patches in writing. I remember we discussed before: Although I’m generally fast with drafts, I’m a real foot-dragger with revisions. I could use your discipline and enthusiasm for the revision/editing process. Let’s hope this improves for me! Hope all is going well with your current MS!

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