It is about writing, to a fair degree, and about life in general. It’s about seemingly endless sieges of high-stress activity (or sometimes lack thereof), then all of a sudden there’s the end. And now what?
Writing novels is like that. So is building, or rebuilding, a house.
I’ve done the former a few dozen times now, and am lining up to do it again. And again after that. I’ve done the latter once, and that’s more than enough for me.
Which tells you where I am on the spectrum of Jobs I’d Rather Do.
The house thing was actually a lot shorter than a novel usually is for me. I’m not a writer who can throw together a novel in a weekend or a couple of weeks. Normally it takes a year or more. Sometimes quite a bit more, if you count the pre-writing, the research, the stalking in increasingly smaller circles around the slow eruption of the idea from the mental loam…
This was four months’ worth. Beltane Eve saw a good part of my house ripped out and hit with blowers for water damage. Last day of August saw the departure of the paint-and-everything guys. In between, I camped in two tiny rooms with two dogs and three cats, went through sine waves of I Shall Prevail and I Can’t Even, and was convinced it would never, ever end.
Now it has ended. Mostly. Insurance claim is still to be closed out, and there’s a thing or two I might question, but for all intents and purposes, well, here we are.
Which is like a novel, too. When the draft goes to the editor, that’s not completion, that’s a trip to the hardware store for more spackle and paint. And when it goes to the printer or the formatter, that’s more like the last handshake, but maybe there’s a thing or two yet to finish.
Still, when the ms. leaves or the paint-and-everything guys drive off, there’s still that sense of, Wait. We can’t be done. Can we?
And then, WHAT DO I DO NOW?
There’s always that next novel or story or article. There will Not be that next renovation, no no no, the kitchen cabinets can wait, so can the roof repair, really, they can.
First, there has to be a breathing space. A time to try to relax, to stop stressing, to realize this one is done. Time that was spent waiting (waiting waiting) or worrying or planning or constructing is free again for things like, oh, sleep. Or horses–back in the saddle again, once the mud dries a little more (three inches of rain in a couple of hours will leave a bit of mess behind). And writing. Definitely writing. That part of the brain can function again, now it’s not disrupted constantly by hammering, sawing, and days of Will This Happen At All?
The last were the worst–the awfulness of not knowing.
I’m still not sure, on a visceral level, that this space belongs to me. It’s so new and clean. I almost (almost) miss the old crappy place, though not the collapsing floors or the waterlogged cupboards. (It was an epic Water Loss Claim, it was.)
Now I have to seriously move on. No climging to the old, it’s gone–hauled off in a contractor’s truck. I have a book to finish and another to start, and horses to train and articles to write and mss. to edit and writers to teach and…
Somebody give me a push?