When do you finish a novel?
I've been obsessively editing my second novel for most of the summer. Yesterday I finished my third close reading of the full manuscript, and this morning when I woke up, it was like a switch had flicked in my brain. My first thoughts were of the third novel, not of fixing one final verb on page 320.
My writing students often ask me when you know something is definitely finished, and I've answered in a lot of different ways over the years. But this was the first time I've felt 'completion' so fully. I wrote much of The Running Lie while still editing Cold Crash, so the edges of the projects blurred. A fair bit of the third one exists already too, but it was written much earlier in the drafting process of the second.
Two things have helped this – I'm writing a series, and secrets are revealed slowly across it. I've never been much of a plotter, preferring to let things happen where they will, but with a four novel arc, it's important to know who needs to be secretive about what!
I'm sure The Running Lie isn't finished – more edits will follow. But for now, I'm satisfied. And just in time to work the phones tomorrow for Clearing 2017!