I’m not sure what I expected. A chorus of un-kempt angels descending from the heavens singing about my conquest over the written word with their sugar-coated voices while trying to disguise their scythe-sharp teeth (the better to eat you with, my pretty); word-gnomes burrowing up from the depths of the earth to present me with the Keys to All the Knowledge There Ever Was, or perhaps a pop-up bobble-head of Stephen King singing my praises and dancing on my desktop.
None of these things happened, but I still finished my novel. I sat in my chair, at my enormous, over-sized Ikea desk, and watched the cursor blink just to the right of the period – the last period. I thought to myself “Well, this is it. It’s done.” I got up, I stretched, I ctrl+s’d. Then I poured myself a shot. It was a quiet, solemn affair.
I thought for sure I would feel… different, slightly magical and singularly brilliant, except I just feel the same; maybe a little older, with finger-pads a little worse for the wear. Definitely a tad more mentally unstable – after all, I did just finish doing what the voices in my head have been begging me to do for a long time: tell their story. And I plan to do it again, and again, and again.
One thing is for sure: nothing will ever be the same again. For the longest time I lived in the world of “when” and “someday”, but now I’m bursting What Ifs bubble and dragging The Thing That Might Be, kicking and screaming, into The Thing That Actually Happened. I did it – I wrote a book.
Now I’m in new territory. The ground at my feet is squishy and uneven and I’m probably going to fall ass over teakettle. I’ve never actually finished before, try as I might to do so in the past, so now I have to do other stuff with my word-baby. The first thing on my To Do list is to ignore the hell out of it. I’m pretty sure this is what I would do for the first month if I ever had a real live human baby, so at least I’ve got that instinct going for me. Not all of us can be baby-people, and babies freak me out. Plus there’s that whole messy giving birth thing.
After my brief but much needed period of estrangement comes the real work, the work I’ve never done and am utterly terrified of screwing up; the work that will eventually turn this somewhat unsavory shadow of a novel into a real book. One that people may actually want to read. I don’t know where to start, but fortunately I have a month to figure that out.
That doesn’t mean I’m going to sit on my ass for a month eating bon bon’s and watching re-runs of BSG. I don’t believe it’s possible for a writer to ever take a day off – not really. It’s one of the quirks of our genetic code: we see stories all around us. Even the smallest moment could spark a story, creating new rabbit holes for us to tumble into.
So for the next month (or so) I’ll switch gears. I have a queue of stories bubbling in my skull, each character trying to push and shove their way to the front of the line. Someone’s going to win the mud-wrestling contest and that someone is going to be my next funky word baby.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t really feel any different: I’m still spinning down the rabbit hole, just switching tunnels. Personally, I hope I never find the way out.
Stay shiny & write on.