(For previous installments see here, here, and here.)
One night, midway through grad school, I was out at a bar with some friends when a woman a few years ahead of us walked in. I knew her only slightly, but one of my friends jumped up. "Hey! Did I hear that you just submitted your dissertation? Congratulations!"
We crowded around her, awed and impressed. Most of us had barely written a single chapter at that point.
"God! That must feel amazing," said one. "Does it feel amazing?"
"You must be so happy. Wow. You must be so proud." Said another.
She laughed. "You know? Eventually you get to the point where you hate your dissertation--SO MUCH--that the only way to be rid of it is to finish it."
That remains one of the more useful pieces of advice that I received in grad school. Though I never grew to hate my dissertation and I don't hate my book, I've hated large parts of the writing process and I've gone through plenty of periods of feeling sick of this project.
Right now is one such period. So last week I finished my latest round of revisions and dropped the manuscript back in the mail to the press that had asked for an R&R. I'm not so foolish as to think that this represents the last round of revisions that I'll make, or even the last significant revisions. But though parts of the book can still be improved, the shape of the whole is pretty much what it's going to be; I can't take this particular project any further, intellectually.
I hope my new reviewers like it. But if they don't, I'm going to send it out to another press--and if need be to another and another--before making further revisions.
I like my book. I feel good about its prospects. But it's time to move on.