1) Typing the words THE and END together. At last.
For me, this happened a long time before THE END actually was THE END, but I still remember it clearly. The first time I finished a story, even if it wasn't ready for publication, I felt like I HAD something. I had done something good enough to type THE END. And that is something I still remember to this day. The first time.
2) Hiding specific lines or references in the story and hoping your editor doesn't catch them. And, if they do, fighting for them tooth and nail. Or reworking them into a different passage. Because that's not cheating.
Okay. I'll admit I've done this multiple times. During edits or revising, sometimes things don't work out the way we want them to, and sometimes lines have to be deleted. There's always that one line, however, that I want to MAKE IT more than anything. And if for some reason it doesn't make it in that first draft, you can bet I'll find a way to make it fit somewhere else. I pretend I'm a secret agent until I get the job done.
3) Seeing your first cover for the first time.
4) Looking around your house after the final round of edits and saying "So this is what it looks like when a tornado hits."
I always knew being an author would be hard work. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else, but it is tough work - especially during those finals deadlines. I remember my first "real" deadline, pausing about halfway through, and wondering if my work space would ever look the same again. Normally, I'm a bit of a clean freak, but everything was out of place. General madness. But that's what happens during deadlines. You let your work consume you. And, in the end, there is absolutely no feeling better than finishing a manuscript.
5) Seeing your book in an actual store for the first time.
It's real. It is a real thing. Not just an ARC. Not just for you. It's here for people to buy. People in real life, not just on Twitter. It's real.
It. Is. Real.