Monday, November 03, 2014

Letting Go

I've just finished my new DI Fleming book (title to be decided) and sent it off to the publisher.

It's never easy to let it go and it feels very odd afterwards. I can remember feeling like this after big exams at school and university; I always expected to be ecstatic at the new freedom to do what I liked, to read what I liked, to lose the sense of guilt about any moment wasted and yeah! to celebrate.

Somehow it never quite worked out like that. Oh, we had post-exam parties  but somehow they were always rather muted affairs. We were all exhausted, I guess, and what I really wanted to do more than anything else was lie on my bed and re-read something totally undemanding, like a childhood favorite – I seem to remember it was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess after Cambridge finals – until I dozed off.

When you've spent a year totally absorbed in a book, it leaves a big hole when you finish it. I always find it hard to bring myself to the point of sending it out; once you've got all the really hard bits done, it's the best fun to 'edit' it – i.e. go through it, fiddling with word order, polishing a paragraph here and there, deleting adjectives and adding some little twist you've just thought of.

And of course, there's always something more you can do; at least I find that. I'm never completely satisfied with what I've done and if I didn't have a deadline I could probably spend the next couple of months swapping a semi-colon for a colon or debating the use of the Oxford comma. Now it's gone, I should be celebrating but I just feel a bit flat, really. It's too quiet inside my head; a version of empty nest syndrome, I suppose.

And it feels sort of – well, rude, to go straight on to getting absorbed in the next book. Of course, the ideas have been lurking about for some time, breaking in on my work on the current book like an ill-mannered acquaintance intruding on a private conversation, saying, 'Oh, by the way, I've had another thought...'

Now, though, I'm free to move on. And as luck would have it, we have booked a holiday next week, so when I come back I'll feel refreshed, I hope, and free to turn my thoughts to the next book, without feeling too much like the hostess who has the sheets whipped off the beds of the departing guests before they've out of the door.


Sybil Johnson said...

I always feel out of sorts any time a long project ends. Felt that way on long programming projects and, now, on writing projects. I guess it's the nature of the beast.

Aline Templeton said...

Sentimental, I suppose. I even manage to feel bad when I get rid of a machine that has served me well!

Sybil Johnson said...

I feel that way about my laptop and my car, too.

Eileen Goudge said...

You captured it exactly, Aline. Post-WIP letdown. It feels to me like becoming unmoored. I float aimlessly at sea until the moment I sit down to write page one of chapter one of the next book.

Rick Blechta said...

Great post!