Sunday, July 4, 2021

What Keeps You Going? by Molly MacRae


The End

Finished. What a great feeling!


I wonder why I don’t type “The End” when I finish a long writing project. Maybe I imagine my last few chapters, last scenes, last pithy bit of action or dialog are so perfect the editor will sit back completely satisfied and not need the obvious addition of those two words.

The answer might be that I forget to type “The End.” It probably doesn’t matter, anyway, because the manuscript is going to come back for at least three rounds of edits. For me, the real writing is in the re-writing, so although I’ve finished the story, “The End” is also another beginning.

But before the manuscript wings back into my inbox for those edits, how does it feel to reach “The End?”

Like a ton of bricks. I’m usually exhausted after too many long days and short nights. Sometimes I burst into tears. I’m sappy like that and I’m glad I’ve always finished a manuscript alone at my desk. “The End” really is a great feeling, though, and as I write my way toward it—at first full of optimism and on schedule, then plodding and muddling along, then falling behind schedule and into pessimism, and then pulling myself together for a second wind (a third wind?) and the final sprint—I promise myself a reward for getting there.

I’m like a squirrel storing up nuts. I save decadent recipes for a celebration. I save LEGO kits and jigsaw puzzles given to me for my birthday or Christmas. I look at yarn and plan to knit something. I make lists of books to read and TV shows to binge. I dream of making pretty journals and blank books. I tell myself I’ll clean the house from top to bottom. Maybe I’ll paint the bathroom (no I won’t)!

Ah, but am I more like a squirrel than I want to admit? Are these rewards, like typing “The End,” promises I amass and then forget?

Nope. I like a good reward. When I sent Argyles and Arsenic off to the editor a couple of weeks ago, the reward was spending a few wonderful days exploring Indianapolis with the grandchildren.

I also have a jigsaw puzzle and a model to make, but they’ll have to wait until next time. 

Baking, knitting, cleaning, and bathroom painting will have to wait, too. It’s July in Central Illinois and way too hot and humid for anything that crazy.

Would you like to know what the best reward is for wrapping up a book, though? It’s having another one to start. Argyles and Arsenic is my fifteenth book. On July 1st, I wrote the first words of book sixteen and, so far, I am optimistic and on schedule!

How do you reward yourself for finishing a project?

Molly MacRae writes the award-winning, national bestselling Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries and the Highland Bookshop Mysteries. As Margaret Welch, she writes for Annie’s Fiction. Visit Molly on Facebook and Pinterest and connect with her on Twitter  or Instagram.



  1. Congrats and good luck with your next book.

  2. Thank you! I'm actually already behind, but not panicking yet.

  3. Love it! I take a week off and do all the things I didn’t do while in the throes of writing. By the end of the week, I’m ready to begin the outline for the next book.

  4. Sometimes I don't want to read my work after it's been published, because I have a terrible urge to reach for a red pen and start making corrections and edits that are now obvious to me, but somehow were missed in all the editing processes.

  5. I do not reward myself for finishing a project. I always have multiple projects going. However, I also make sure to take time off from work to recharge. I build those into my schedule. That was harder during the Covid lockdown, but I am already scheduling 2022 holidays.

  6. If it is a novel - I take a month off to read other people's books; if it is a short story, I take a magazine into the bathtub until the water cools or I finish reading the magazine and start a new project the next day.