A few minutes ago I finished a YA manuscript I've been working on for eight months. Writing it has been great fun and a new experience, since it's my first humorous novel-length work. Although it feels fantastic to type "the end" at the bottom of a story, the real end is a long, long time in the future.
Seconds after typing the last word, I dashed off an e-mail to my writing group, attached my ms, and pressed SEND before I could change my mind. If I allow myself to start reviewing what I've written, I'll begin revising before they have a chance to give me feedback. And, right now I'm much too close to what I've written to be objective.
While I'm waiting for their comments, I'll tackle some projects I've been neglecting. I can update my Web site, add content to my Author Profile at S&S and AuthorsNow!, wash some windows, and dump the green stuff out of the jar at the back of my fridge. On second thought, I may ignore the inner voice telling me to rinse and recycle and toss it unopened in the trash.
The next round of work on my ms comes after the talented members of my writing group give me their comments and suggestions. Their feedback is unfailingly excellent, but they seldom agree on the changes I should make. We discuss and debate, but it's up to me to sift through their ideas and decide what and how to revise. When those revisions are finished, they'll be gracious enough to read and discuss the whole story again. They're a brave and wonderful group!
After a series of revisions, my manuscript will be ready to show to my agent. It's a good thing she's a fast reader because I generally pace back and forth until I hear her verdict. If she gives the story a thumbs up, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the future of my manuscript is in her market-savvy hands.
My story has many adventures ahead as it travels into the world of editors and publishers. The characters may change, the story line might be altered, the title could be scrapped for a better one. Whatever happens, it's certain that the words I typed today are definitely not THE END.