Finishing a book is always a bittersweet experience, both as an author and as a reader. The reader completing an enjoyable read feels both fulfilled by the work, and sorry to see that it’s over. If it’s a series novel, he can look forward to another one (probably not on the schedule that he would prefer). If the author is prolific, he can rush right out to the bookstore, or tap a few keys, and get another one on the way, ASAP.
The author’s experience includes most of that stuff: The satisfaction of a job well done, the let-down of reaching the culmination of a heap of energy and effort, the wondering when the next book will come (probably not on the schedule he would prefer. . ., either in terms of when the next idea will be ready to write, or when the book will actually be published). If it’s an early draft, these feelings are mixed with a sort of dread. Because we know the zombie novel will rise again!
Ideally, you put it away for a month or so, then re-read, revise, submit. Presto! Often, it doesn’t work that way. The thing keeps popping up. Yes, you wrote ‘The End’, and laid it to rest, but you keep opening up the coffin, rearranging this bit or that one. The book might haunt your dreams, or even your days, still clinging to the back of your mind while you’re supposed to be doing something else. You know you’ve got to leave it, but you can’t let go.
Worse yet, you finally shake the thing loose into the mail, only to have it lurch home again a few weeks later. Can you get it back out right away, or is it in search of braaaaaiiiinnns? Are you gonna spend another few days tinkering with it, like Frankenstein still stitching up his monster? Maybe another plot. . . maybe I’ll change the hero up a bit. . . maybe it needs more sex/violence/humor/action/description/dialog or adverbs! Just one more bolt of lightning, I swear!
Here’s the thing about the zombie manuscript: If you give it what it wants (your brain) it’ll just keep coming back for more! If you’re not ready to submit, slam it in a drawer and lock the key. Get your kid to put a password on the file and not tell you what it is for a month. Then get to work on something new. If you’ve already driven it from your desktop, don’t hang around the mailbox waiting for word. Pray that it latches onto the brain of some eager agent or editor. Pray the Zombie manuscript never comes home!