Skip to content

Lost In Completion

Whenever I talk with my non-writer friends about writing, it’s clear they don’t fully understand what goes into the creation of a novel. It’s the usual complaint of writers: They’re supportive, have a bit of interest, but don’t get the way writing sucks us in and wraps us in a cocoon of isolation and effort. But this week I had an experience that might explain, as much as possible, what’s happening when writers tuck into our worlds.

I’ve been working on my current novel for almost a year. It’s been through four complete revisions and I’ve been working on my fifth (and hopefully last) major revision. I got some insightful feedback and a few problems clicked into place, so I was zipping along through the revisions, averaging around 10k words a day. It was a beautiful, zen feeling–like driving a car on an open road with gentle curves.

Then, as happens every 3-4 weeks, my kids got sick. I ended up with them at home for two weeks, making writing nearly impossible. Usually this would be a minor hiccough. But because I was so deep into my world, it was actually difficult to pull out of it. I was irritated and short tempered, itching to get back at the keyboard.

Eventually I packed up the kids and took them to my mother-in-law so they could have some fun at the beach and I could finally get the end written. I holed up for two days and then wrote the all-powerful words that give breathing room at the end of each draft: The End.

I stared at them. Aren’t they beautiful? So complete. So perfect. I shared my news with my writing group. I tweeted. I let the euphoria wash over me.

But after my elation settled–which only took about ten minutes–a fog rolled in on me. It wasn’t any kind of sadness or depression. I wasn’t missing my WIP. But I was somehow lost without it. I wandered into the kitchen. Back to the bedroom. I picked up a book to read. Put it down. Tried to engage with a game. But I couldn’t get into anything.

It was a giant question: what now? After holding the complications of my world and plot and characters in my head, I felt emptied and unsure of myself. Almost like this world, the real one, wasn’t solid.

That feeling stuck with me for about a day. It doesn’t hit me when I take a break in writing. But when I finish a project, or a phase of a project, it comes in like a wave. I no longer know what to do with myself when that flow state leaves me.

Eventually the sensation fades and I get back to my life. But I thought it would be important to share how bittersweet and overwhelming “The End” can be for an author. The beginning can be exciting. The middle a drag. But the end? It’s like graduating from college without a job lined up. What next?

close

Newsletter

Like what you see? Subscribe to my monthly newsletter to keep up to date on my publications and blog posts. I'd love to have you with me on this journey into the weird.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: