The Book is Finished 

October 5, 2018 - Joel’s Journal - Volume 3 - Entry #45


That’s right, after 13 months of writing, countless early mornings filled with swirling thoughts fuelled by black coffee into written words, hundreds of thousands of words, typos and key strikes, the thing is finally finished. 

Taking a step back, letting my eyes glaze over as I stare at my fingers tapping the keys now, I try and remember back to when I first sat down to this novel. I know there was an idea in the back of my head, an image that got it all started, and it just so happens to form the first scene of the book. 

I wrote about it in my journal back in August 2017:

It really started with a single image. Not a physical picture and not a real place. 

It’s a small bedroom, The ceiling is angled by the roof on one side and underneath the dip sits a single bed. A perfectly folded bedspread of blue plaid is laid across it, and at the foot of the bed, there’s an open window looking out onto the rooftops and alleyways of a grungy city. 

This isn’t the odd part though. The odd part is the young boy laying atop the bed, only he’s not laying, but floating about five inches off the bedspread. He’s got short brown hair and dark brown eyes that stare up at the ceiling. 

Honestly, I have no idea where the image came from, but it stuck with me for a couple days and didn’t leave me alone. So, I turned it into the opening scene of this story.

-Joel’s Journal, August 28, 2017,  

That was the beginning, and now we’ve reached the end. 

I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am. In the same manner that you can throw a bunch of delicious ingredients together and still be worried the final dish will taste like mush, simply continuing to type at a computer every morning doesn’t always mean that a finished novel will come out the other side. 

The old trunk sitting in my living room is a living testament to that very fact. 

Anyone who writes a lot will know that story ideas come and go. Some of those ideas will actually turn into written words, even parts of a story, but then things just dry up. 

I’ve started books, written nearly 100 pages, then abandoned the idea. Short stories have started and stalled, essays have been introduced only to be scrapped halfway through. It happens, ideas are fragile, and in the psyche of a writer, which can be filled with tentacles of self-doubt, writhing and waiting for the chance to grab something shiny and drag it down into the depths, nothing is really safe. 

So, as I said, I’m surprised yet another novel has been able to find its way through my brain and aching fingers into a living document. 

It’s sitting beside me now, a thick black binder holding the entirety of the 557-page first draft. 

Oh, it needs to be chopped down, for sure, but that comes in the editing. The first part is over. The story is on the page. 

It’s been a journey, I know that sounds cliche, but I like it, and it makes the most sense. 

I’ve written this novel in two different apartments in Oshawa, finishing it in my current Toronto home. The writing has come to Runaway Bay, Jamaica with me, where I crafted some of the later chapters on the balcony of our suite with the early morning sea breeze blowing on my back. I distinctly remember smelling the woody scent of campfire smoke from somewhere outside the resort, contrasted starkly with the soft sound of the tide starting to come in and rub the sandy beach below. 

I wrote portions of the book at my parent’s kitchen table, one of the places I feel most connected with myself and most at peace. 

Since starting this novel, I’ve moved in with M, I’ve changed jobs, and have travelled across the country. 

There’s been happy times, sad times and scary times (one in particular involving a stray bicycle on the 401 that almost killed me). 

In a word, a lot has changed in the last year, but the one constant has been this novel, and it’s odd, but the first emotion that came to me once I typed the final words, was a kind of emptiness.

I know it’s ironic, or perhaps even facetious to belittle such a moment, but it’s true. 

That all changed once I told M. 

She came home from work, and as has come routine with me working from home now, she settled in, told me about her day (I told her about mine), then our minds turned to dinner.

“What are we having?” she asked me. 

“Oh I’m not cooking tonight,” I told her. “We’re going out to celebrate.”

Sitting on the couch behind my desk, she looked up from her phone. 

“Celebrate? What for?” she asked. 

“I finished the novel this morning.”

A wide smile broke across her face and she bolted from the couch. Her words a mixture of pet names and shouts as she came over to me in my desk chair and wrapped her arms around my neck and we kissed. 

I’m smiling now just recalling her reaction. It was genuine. It was beautiful. It means everything to me to have someone who cares so deeply about the work I’m doing. She may not always know the plots or the day to day minutia of creating the novel, but she knows I’m working on something big, and she knows it’s important to me. So, she makes it important to her, and I love her for it. 

We went out to one of our favourite Italian places in Yorkville, ate delicious pizza, and I drank a pair of cold Peronis on the back patio. 


So there you have it readers, another one in the books. 

It’s got me thinking too. 

I need to stop operating in a vacuum. Or as M so eloquently puts it, I need to “stop being a pussy.”

Recently, I submitted my first novel, Horizon’s End, for publication at a small publishing house, it was unsurprisingly denied. I looked about for a few others to send it to, but decided to change tact and publish it on my own. 

There’s something that appeals to me about doing it on my own. So, that is currently in the works and hopefully finished by the end of the year. 

For the book I just finished, well, that may be a while, but know that it’s done, and know that I appreciate your support. 

Just having read this far means you care to a certain degree, and I thank you for that. 

And thanks for reading, as always. 


Joel Wittnebel