This post could also be titled “I finished writing my book, so why am I crying?”
It’s been a little while since I checked in with you, my friends, and for that I apologize. I don’t like to leave you hanging if I can help it, and talking to you keeps me anchored outside of my head.
So what’s with the euphoria, you ask?
As we all know, I’ve been working on the sequel to my romantic adventure novel Freedom’s Treasure. FT features a smart, funny, and sassy heroine and one down to earth, dependable as the sunrise, sexy guy.
Anna and Hunter are two of my favorite characters. I enjoy writing them, and checking in to see how they’re doing. I had big plans for the couple in this sequel and they came through for me in ways I didn’t think they would. It’s nice when our expectations are met, is it not?
I’ve been working on this book for several months, and the final push came last week. I sent out messages to family and friends that it would be finished within 30 days, and ended up finishing the first draft a week later.
Awesome, right? Like celebrations should ensue left and right. They did, but they did not.
Freedom’s Song – due out the first weekend in August if you’re feeling breathless with anticipation – was a project of some passion. It’s dedicated to two couples that meant the world to me as a child, and still do today.
I want it to be perfect.
It’s not perfect, but what draft ever truly is? Trust me when I say an author can always find another way to word something, or there’s a detail we wanted to add and forgot, or what have you.
I’m happy with the story. I’m happy with most of the chapters. The editing process should be smooth and I’m not dreading the editing portion the way that I thought that I would. It helps that my editor loves these characters as much as I do.
So why then did I feel so anti-social this weekend that I’ve been ignoring my phone? Not just ignoring it, but ignoring it with hostile intent.
We started off on a high. My Companion and I went out to a nice dinner the day after I wrote my version of The End, and everything was all bright and shiny.
Then the doldrums hit.
My body and brain were so used to working on this project that when I didn’t have it anymore I felt like I was at loose ends. I sat on my balcony and watched the world pass by, and had no drive to do anything.
My nerves were shot. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was on the edge of something.
I should have known, honestly. This is my fourth completed novel. If I don’t know what my reaction is going to be by now, well, then I must be a slow learner.
I tend to shut down after completing a novel. My brain figures it’s finished all of the heavy lifting, and it’s done like dinner – absolute and total shutdown – you know, like the government sometimes.
My heart gets so wrapped up with my characters that it breaks into many, many tiny pieces after I hit Save the final time on a first draft.
I feel like they abandoned me.
I don’t hear Colby’s voice anymore, or Nancy’s either.
I feel that absence, and it hurts. Emotionally I am raw and every touch, every sound grates on those raw emotions.
Friends came in from Michigan. I haven’t seen them in years. They were supposed to visit at this time last year but weren’t able to make the trip. They had a health emergency that is finally better. Or mostly better.
Let’s see … I finished the draft on Sunday. Monday was my blah day, followed by dinner. Tuesday is a blur. I won’t tell you how I passed the day as I no longer remember. Wednesday my friends arrived.
We had an absolute blast! When I lived in Michigan we always had a good time. I mean, duh, there’s a reason why we’re friends.
My life – and I – have changed a lot in the years since I had seen them, and I loved being able to share that with them.
The aftermath. Oh my, the aftermath.
My friends coming in delayed my natural reaction time. I was drained mentally, emotionally, and physically, but I pushed through to ensure they had fun. Of course I did. Would I really let a touch of the blues change how I took care of my friends while they were here? Hell no.
I call it the Lawrence Willpower.
Don’t want to get out of bed? It’s happening anyway.
Don’t want to get that shot at the doctor’s? Shut your eyes, it’s happening anyway.
Sick with bronchitis and just want to die? That’s right, I’m working anyway.
My brother has it, I have it, my sister has it. Actually, it may be “Mom’s Maiden Name” Willpower as I’m pretty sure we got it from that side. But our last name is Lawrence so …
Ugh, I hate when I get lost in semantics.
Anywho, my friends came and conquered Orlando. I’m glad someone took me up on our offer. We’re in a prime location near all of the parks and I promise you I am a fantastic hostess. Maybe no one believes me when I say we’ll put them up for a weekend? I don’t know. Whatever. Everyone else’s loss.
The day after they left the blues went well beyond being touchy. I was straight up being molested by misery.
Sitting on the balcony with a random tear falling is not something I consider fun. Where the hell did that tear come from? What does it want? Did it bring friends? And if so, where the hell are those friends? Let’s get this out of the way all at once.
Of course it never works that way. Sometimes we have to ride the sadness until its natural course has been exhausted.
That’s where we are today.
I’m still sad, and a wee bit hostile. My phone rang a few minutes ago and I actually answered it so that should tell you something. I’ve been ignoring texts, emails, Facebook, my blog, everything for about three days now, maybe four.
I didn’t scream at traffic today, and even though we woke up late it didn’t leave me feeling like my entire day was off. That’s a move in the right direction.
This post is the final step, I think, in easing my way through this sadness. Once I go beyond it I can start working on the editing, and consider what is going on with the next book in that series – because yes, I already know most of it, just not how its all going to fall on the page yet.
From my experience, finishing a novel is all encompassing. For at least a week, maybe two, My Companion had no clue what was running through my head or heart – they were scenes, by the way, scenes and conversations my characters were either having with themselves or me, I’m not sure which.
When your entire world is wrapped up in something, and that something just disappears at the click of the Save button … then what is the new purpose of your world? Because you better hope you have one. It’s like a death in the family, I suppose, but these characters are now immortalized.
So what to do now that the euphoria from manuscript completion has ended?
Well for one, stop feeling like everyone wants a piece of me when they only want to say hello because they love me and haven’t heard from me in a while. They’re not trying to chip pieces of me off for themselves, yet my psyche doesn’t believe that.
I feel claustrophobic, inside and out. The best way to explain it is there’s a miniature version of me and she lives in the back of my brain. She’s my bellwether, where she goes I follow. For the past three days she’s been jumping up and down, holding her hands in her hair, and screaming. Just screaming. No words. All raw emotion.
It is disconcerting, to put it mildly.
The screaming has muted, and she’s tentatively pulled her hands from her hair. We’ll see how it goes for the rest of the week. Eventually she’ll be back in a recliner chair and crocheting or something, and the regular A.K. will be back in effect.
So why am I telling you all of this? It seems awfully personal.
I’m telling you this in case you have a major project of passion that you’re about to complete. I’m warning you that there is no high higher than the completion, and no low lower than having finished something so all encompassing.
I love you, my friends, and I want good things for you, so please don’t be surprised when you are smacked in the back of the head by the unhappy feels. Go ahead and ride it out. It’s natural as anything.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Comments are always open …