You have finished your book. You have sent it to a publisher. Or you have sent it to several publishers, the shotgun approach. Or maybe you have put it away in a box (like green tomatoes) in a dark place to ripen.
You should be happy. Ecstatic. You have completed a long and difficult task, one that few people attempt and fewer finish. Instead, you can’t get yourself up in the morning, let alone drag yourself to your writing desk.
In short, now the black hairys begin.
You have exposed your child to the critical eyes of the big, cold, heartless world. No one is going to appreciate or understand your intention. Or, it’s not good enough, it’s hopelessly inept, there’s that one too. You have left out something you should have put in, or you have put in something you should have left out. As it wings its way to some overworked editor’s slush pile you rage to yourself… why oh why didn’t you reach a long arm through that mail slot and grab it back. If it’s under the bed, you know that you will never ever have the energy or motivation to take it out and tackle it again.
Even if you are optimistically inclined to believe that it’s going to be picked up immediately by some grateful editor out there in the black hole of the publishing industry, you are faced with an ending. You are plunged into the grey gloom of the letdown-after-xmas feeling, the low that inevitably follows a high of activity. You’ve been so busy with your illusions that you’ve neglected real life and now it hits you between the eyes.
You try some minor diversions – shopping spree, getting high on drug of choice, TVing it, overdosing on those movies you’ve missed. You might even try something major – renovating the entire house or taking an extended trip to one of those all-inclusive resorts where the only finger you have to lift is the one to get the straw of your pina colada cocktail to your lips.
The problem with any of these is that sooner or later there is the inevitable return, the wherever-you-go-there-you-are syndrome.
Know that you’re not alone. Famous example: Virginia Woolf regularly checked in to a rest home after finishing a novel and after finishing Between the Acts filled her overcoat pockets with stones and walked into the River Ouse.
Don’t do that.
Do get writing. Immediately. Same idea as getting back into the driver’s seat after you’ve had a car accident.
Write what? you say. I’m empty. Done. Dried up. Next stop the glue factory.
Not true. As long as there’s a thought in your head, there is grist for your mill.
Once I saw a clematis climbing the trellis outside my window. Every day it was staring me in the face, so I started talking it. One day it answered back. It told me a story that, one thing leading to another, became a 500 page novel.
It doesn’t always work that way, but sometimes it does. Whatever else, by writing you will accumulate a pile of lumber which you store away until such time as you will need it.
You might produce a lot of nonsense before you get grooving, pages of inane chatter or lofty purple prose. Save it. You never know what you might find a use for in the future. You might choose to write about something as mundane as the cold sore that is blossoming on your upper lip, yellow ooze oozing from beneath a colorful scab which keeps catching on the spoon when you eat your chicken soup. The children stare at it with fascination, ‘why don’t you pull it off, ugh, I can’t stand to look at it, ugh, mom/dad, sick… ugh…’.
You will find a home for this gem. It may take months or years, but some day you will use it in you’re writing. How about a SF novel where this slimy yellow creature, you may add further graphic grotesque embellishments, is oozing over the entire planet slurping up everything and everybody in its path. Or a YA novel from a teenager’s POV where such an affliction is perfect for showing his/her feelings of self-conscious inferiority. And so it goes. Main thing, you are writing again, and as you are happily cheerfully typing away, your imagination takes flight and you forget to be depressed. You are a veritable phoenix rising from your own ashes.