Friday 29 April 2011

Like being left by a lover

Finishing a book is like being left by a lover. Of course, that's where the metaphor falls flat on its ass. You never enter a relationship with the aim to finish it. Or get paid for handing your lover over afterwards.

If anything, writing a book is like traveling. Discovery. Unexpected chaos. And then leaving, feeling like a part of you has been left behind (and not just the toe nails and hair and skin flakes).

Sometimes, finishing a book feels like that old superstition. That you "lose" part of your soul when you get photographed. Writing is forming emotional energy. You have to get the stuff from somewhere. You have to be passionate enough about it to keep it going for anything between six weeks to two years. Then release it. The relief that comes with the release - is also a loss. Your hands are empty. You lose purpose. You don't come home thinking "I Need To Get This Scene Written!" - you come home to laundry and dirty dishes and a carpet that needs hovering. You begin to notice dust specks. Begin to actually see that the garden is overgrown.

You update your blog twice in one day.

I know I'm a workaholic. That trait serves me really well, actually. I do get a lot of shit done, especially in writing. I just wrote a - pretty good - novel in less than three months. Whoot! I must be doing something right.

Finishing the novel - the act of racing towards the ending, knowing it's maybe just 5-10 pages now, is glorious. By that point you know whether it's any good. The quick edit after that is already anti-climactic. You have no idea if it's any good, but you begin to see all the stuff that has piled up in the meantime.

Not writing is misery. At least I know this time there are more novels (it's far worse if there are no others lined up - I've gone through the "oh noes, I'll never write anything like this every again! WOES IS MEHHH!" phase so often that it's become something of a running joke).

I know I should be unpacking my bags and sleep and sort through the photos and memories, but I really cannot wait to be travelling again.


  1. Don't you have Iron Cross to do? Or is that one filling you with dread still?

  2. Great post. There is a certain malaise that sets in when you finally put the characters to bed (so to speak) and force your mind to move on. No more waking in the morning with a priceless line or staying awake at night trying to work out that pivotal scene.

    Counterpunch will be wonderful and the loss will ease when other work steps in. But yes, I always mourn the loss of the characters and the story, at least for a little while. It hurts,even, but then, new ones take their place and the feeling is like discovering a brand new love.