In a very Pavlovian type reaction, I am now conditioned to get very excited when I see tan/orange DHL envelopes sitting on my porch. So far, they have brought me: copyedited manuscipts for my perusal, ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), cover flats, and on February 12th, 2008, they brought me my novel. Four copies of the final product.
If you're not a writer, I'm not sure that I can fully explain what it feels like to hold your novel for the first time. I'm embarassed to say that it was only a half step removed from the way it felt to hold my boys when they were born. The experience was just that visceral, that primal. All along the way, I plagued myself with little doubts and fears: Sure, Jeremy, you have an agent, but she'll come to her senses and get rid of you anytime now... Okay, so an editor wants to buy the novel, but she'll never get the purchase approved... Alright, it's was approved but they'll never accept the final version...
Perhaps every writer does not feel those same inner doubts, but I did and I do, and I lack the words to explain what it feels like each and every time those doubts get smashed aside and proven wrong. Holding the finished version made me want to unleash a very Dead Poet Society-esque "Viking Yawp." I didn't, because my flu-stricken wife and youngest son were both napping, but it echoed on the inside for a few days, even though it never came out.
You want to know something though... when I sent out the proposed sequel to my agent, the same doubts I had on the first one reappeared. Here's hoping that they, too, are banished with decisiveness.