There’s very little that feels as good as finishing a story. It’s just the absolute best in the whole world, this rush of euphoria and giddiness and dizziness and the sheer accomplishment of the whole thing. Champagne and potato chips. Fireworks. Cake.
But that next day, oh fuck, that next day. Not quite a hangover, just an emptiness. What next? You wander the halls. You pay some bills. And late in the afternoon, that panic sets in. What if I can never write again?
Yeah, that’s where I am. And it kinda sucks.
At about 1:14 in the afternoon on Wednesday, I finished edits on my debut novel, No Awkward Goodbyes. My editor, Chelsey, is a saint of words, guiding me through what was, at times, an overwhelming and daunting process. She also bought me a grilled cheese with short ribs, which makes her my favorite person ever. It was a task filled with a lot of pacing and a lot of fretting and a lot of coffee, but I did it, and I learned that doing the dishes helps me work out scenes that I’m struggling with, which I’m sure is something Ian appreciates, even if I do it while I talk to myself.
I took the rest of the afternoon off. I ate tortilla chips and pineapple salsa. I watched the season 3 finale of The Shield with Corey and I finished letters to my grandmother and my friend Liz. I finished a present for Juanita and got everything wrapped up and in the mail. I continued my tradition of reading Raymond Chandler when I finish a big project (The High Window).
The next morning, I let myself sleep in, and that’s when the panic really began to set in. Had I, in my rush to beat my deadline, broken myself? Was I, in my chips-and-TV indulgence, frittering away my work time and therefor, letting my brain atrophy? I felt unmoored and lazy, which is the worst feeling in the world, especially when the words just won’t come.
I am a very disciplined writer. I get up and I make coffee and I write. I wrote the first draft of No Awkward Goodbyes in eight months. I finished my edits a week ahead of schedule. So this drifting feeling is, for me, worse than writer’s block. It’s like writer’s block times a hundred. When I have writer’s block, I know that if I just do the dishes or take a short nap or make something crafty and it will pass. But the dishes are done and I don’t need another journal (not yet, anyways), and it all seems unknown.
So now what?