I suspect, with any large project, which takes a lot of your concentration and time… once the elation of getting to the end passes (and usually, with me anyway, that’s in an exhausted haze.) there’s a little period where that’s a sudden empty hole.
I know. ‘The king is dead. Long live the king!’ It’s good advice, but not that easy to take (that’s how you know it is good advice. Bad advice is easy to take.) I definitely go through a series of stages, finishing a book.
First draft ‘the end’ is mostly relief. I collapse into bed (it’s usually 2-3 AM, by then.). The next day, is my read-through and fixing all the # (things to look up, names I can’t remember and didn’t want to stop and look back for, etc.) This is usually when I spend a lot of time with a wrinkled forehead, trying to work out just what I meant by that bit… And inevitably when the last dash for the finish line gets expanded and made coherent, coherency being something which may be slipping away by early morning and the typical Monkey finale. When that is done, I print it and give it Barbs to cover in red (or blue or whatever comes to hand) ink. This takes her a few days, and improves the readability a great deal.
It’s also my bleakest point with any project, because until that clean-up is done, I certainly don’t want anyone else to look at it. And then the self-doubt starts up in earnest. I’ve invested huge effort and time into whatever the book is… will anyone want to read it? Will anyone pay to read it? Is it any good? Have I just wasted months getting the plot into a story?
This particular book — because it is a complete break from anything else I have ever written, different genre and style… I have those doubts and depression quintupled. Frankly, this is insanity, largely brought on by the stress of our petty bureaucrats. I have to write to earn, and this was what wanted to come out, so, I wrote it, something being better than nothing.
After that I send off to various first readers, who tear into it in their own specific fashion. All makes it better to read… and hopefully they tell me that it doesn’t entirely suck. I know I won’t be entirely satisfied, until I have left it for a few years, when, suddenly, I will discover that I actually enjoy it very much and would like to meet the guy who wrote it, and maybe even read some of his other books…
Then of course it gets into the process, proofs, covers, blurbs etc. By this stage it’s an annoyance, because I am engaged in the reign of the new king (whatever book I working on next).
But the slough of despond – which I arrived at when I finished and printed early this morning, while I still wait for even Barbs first response to the books (yes, her liking varies a lot. At this stage, I’ll take ‘I don’t hate it’.) is a particularly hard time… in which I am trying to find direction, pick up the next book to work on (I have 3 others in progress – this one just caught fire)
So: how do you pick that next project? In some ways it was easier when I had contracted them ahead.