I stayed up until midnight last night finishing a read-though on Stolen in Paradise, my latest book, and then sent it to beta-readers (those intrepid souls who've agreed to have a whack at my first draft) at 12:01 a.m.
I hoped to feel good today. Triumphant even. I wrote another book! Even after a 55-hour work week, I finished the damn edit and ahead of schedule too!
Instead I woke up today feeling like poop on the bottom of a shoe. Mashed thin and really smelly, no resilience whatsoever, teary and stressed, in fact every bit like a postpartum new mother only without the baby to keep her occupied. Those of you who birthed babies, remember that saggy spongy feeling, like your empty uterus was going to fall out? Men, you will never have this dubious joy–but trust me, it's a real physical sensation.
That's what I feel like mentally.
Fortunately I've been through this before (3 other times) and like an experienced mother I know not to take myself seriously, that it will pass. It's okay to wander, and putter, and sit staring into space, feeling flat and exhausted, and struggle with word retrieval and people's names whom I've known for years.
Because, dammit, I just delivered a manuscript.
Anyone else relate to this?
Oh my goodness, that is exactly how I have felt! I completely understand and thought I was ridiculous for feeling this way. It is great to know I am not alone.
Yes, and yes!
Finally, you get to breathe. Your emotionally empty and of course you have reason for it. In two days you are going to fill back up again with all that creative spurt and drive. Just remember to be mi drip of your own needs after sub an immense output.
Thanks so much Brian, for your kind words!
I am sorry about the last sentence of the above post. I was on my phone in the car while someone was driving.
it is meant to say – “just remember to take care of your own needs after such an immense output.”
LOL yeah, it was confusing!!
The answer is a new book. Or another book. I’m so busy trying to tie up Shadow of the Tiger I haven’t had time to feel blah about Starheart.
But I do understand. You pick things up. You put things down. Wonder what to do next. Stare at your keyboard. Ah, the joys of being a writer.
Thanks so much for your support in beta-reading Stolen!
Awesome, Shadow of the Tiger sounds like a great title!
Funny that you wrote this today. I woke up today feeling entirely directionless, realizing that probably signals that today should be the day I break ground on a new book. I can definitely sympathize.
Yeah you just finished a project too, didn’t you? I make a list of projects and when I get that way I make myself go pick one…
Fortunately you’re a seasoned pro, know what it is you’re feeling and why, and will not end up gorging on bon-bons and ice cream – then having to deal with the guilt from *that* afterward. (Not that *I’d* know anything about any of that!!) Best of luck with Stolen in Paradise, Toby. Time to start another project. \/// Write long and prosper!
Indeed I will! Aloha Allan!
I’ve only done two books so far, and definitely had that feeling with each one. However, what I’ve noticed is that “anytime I am not engaged in meaningful activity” is an opportunity to have those same feelings. It’s as if the moment I choose to act on a dream/vision/desire–whether it is to create a garden plot or write an article/book/dissertation, the Universe steps in and provides emotional juice/motivation, and resources to get it done. And the moment I withdraw my attention (when I finish or bail out), all that extra stimulation/support/guidance somehow dissipates/is taken away and there is a feeling similar to abandonment. In my experience, anyway, the bottom line is this: happiness depends on being fully engaged in creating. (Perhaps because that old saw, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” was drilled indelibly into my brain.) I think some of us have to learn how to step back, relax, and appreciate what we’ve just done and consciously be okay with not-doing. Like, maybe plan a special treat in advance to celebrate the conclusion of a big project?
I think there’s a natural letdown as you release any intense project. I do busywork or nothing to wait it out. Then I get going on the next book, or edit an older one until the juice comes back. It always does!
This sounds familiar…only difference is I’ve just had my first book published and am now suffering anxiety…can I do it again?? Busy with trying to get the hang of this “marketing” process, and not putting too many words on the page as yet.
Oh dear, I’ve been through that one too. Best way over it is to get on with the next one! Check out Dean Wesley Smith’s blog for great tips.
Can’t say I can entirely relate since I’ve never written a book but I have given birth and can attest to that empty feeling. What you’re describing reminds me of when I finish reading a book. Even if it ends well, I can spend a few hours moping around the house because the journey the book took me on is now over and I have a “now what?” sort of sensation. I never really realized that authors feel the same way (even more acutely) but it makes total sense.
And the only time I remember this feeling as a reader was on the last book of a beloved series… I can see how now readers have to wait around for the next one!
I am waiting on the last three of my beta-readers (thanks for putting a name on them!) for the first viable draft of my first novel. I feel I am foundering, caught in some weird way-station. I can’t do much more editing, and I can’t seem to start another, though that is what I want to do (have the title and characters and storyline in my head and everything). Any advice on how to push the start button on the next book?
I’d firm up your next work. Write down those bios (it’s a critical tool) do some research reading, and begin your outline/plan of the next book. The only way to get over the book before is to begin the next one.
I always have a fresh Work in Progress (WIP), a book in edits, and a storyfile of projects. If I get stuck on one thing I go to the next. I have too many books to write to waste any more than a day on the post-work letdown!
Planning and editing are good to do when you aren’t feeling the creative juice particularly. Just be sure your planning is actually writing things down. I find they’re easily lost if they’re just in your head.
Thanks, Toby! I appreciate the advice. 🙂
I have two friends who are both writers and they have an unwritten pact to deliver the other pie upon completing the book because they know it is not an entirely victorious feeling.
I can totally relate to this. I expected to feel elated and triumphant when my first novella (a romance) was declared finished by the editor. I felt flat. Things have not changed. I have now written two traditionally published novellas, and 7 short Urban Fantasy novels (2 self-pubbed and the rest in queue waiting to be edited). Sometimes I get bogged down in the last couple thousand words and can’t make myself face them because then it will be over. Sometimes I get done and go, “Now what do I do? Laundry? Yay me.” Even when I’ve released books (traditionally or self-pub) it hasn’t felt like a huge great thing. It’s just…a thing. And now it’s time to move on.
It’s interesting to hear that this is a common reaction. I thought it was only me.
I don’t know if you’ll get this far down the comment line but I would like to to give a little input here.
This morning after dropping off my grandson at school I arrived home feeling empty. Maybe it was the news about Hawaiian Home lands being used for a shopping mall or the once again serial killer story line last night on TV or one depressing news item after another on the radio. I can’t say.
But I sat down with a cup of coffee and started to read you post. Toby, you are missing something here. You have set goals despite a heavy work scheduled, keeping up with your blog and being a wife and home maker. Even though your kids don’t live at home anymore they are still your kids and I am sure you still take time for them.
Despite all your hours being rapped up with and for others in your life, YOU have written another book!!!
YOU have managed to publish and promote your last one. Anyone who has written knows how hard it is to make yourself sit down and write, to make yourself think, plot and fight off that terrible critic in your head in order to finish it.
You are a champion! You are not a procrastinator, you are a creator. Most of all you accomplish goals. That my dear is something to celebrate. Don’t let the thoughts of what is needed to do now to get that book out there, instead focus on the race you’ve just won.
I so admire what you do. Kick that poop out of you, get out and strut your stuff and be proud of what you have just done. I know your are made of strong stuff because, lets face it, writing ain’t for sissy’s.
Dear Karen. I so appreciate the supportive and bracing compliment. I’m still a bit at a loose end but trying to let that be okay.
Much aloha and friendship,
I stumbled on this when searching the phrase “post-book depression & writers”. This one caught my eye, and low and behold: every word of the opening post was me – I could (and probably should) have written it. I’ve finished my second book. The first was non-fiction and published, and somehow I don’t remember going through this, but memory could be failing me. This one is my first fiction and now into the hands of reviewers. I wasn’t prepared for post-book depression, but it hit me – hard. And I wanted to hit everyone around me! I think I’m through it, but it lasted a long two weeks. Now I field through agent rejections, as I patiently await reviewer comments. Thanks for all of the above – it helps to know that despite our writing and working in isolation, we writers are not alone.
Yeah, it’s true only I haven’t found too many blogs about the unique condition…did you like the part about the feeling like your uterus is going to fall out? Ha. But it’s good to know it passes, and having other projects really helps!