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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Everyone knows about post-partum depression, but how about the post-book blues? A writer works for months on a project. Momentum builds to the grand finale. And then poof, it’s all over. You’re done. Finished. Past the creative hurdle. What happens next?

What’s next is that you face reality, just like new parents who come home from the hospital with a squalling baby. Now it’s time to exert your parenting skills. For a writer, a manuscript is her baby. You polish your masterpiece, submit it, and then risk rejection, but you learn a lot along the way. Meanwhile, you begin to gather the research materials for the next story. It’s sort of like learning how to change a diaper and warm formula while already thinking about baby number two.

During this gap between writing projects, you can pay attention to bills, family members, and household issues that you’ve skirted while absorbed in your story. Dental cleaning? Check. Doctor visits? Check. Sort through files in home office? Check. Call for repair estimates? Check. If you have a day job, you can throw yourself into your work with renewed frenzy.

Is any of this fun? Nope. But you also have time to meet friends for lunch, to stroll in the park, to go shopping, or to do sports. Your mind is free to follow other pursuits. And yet as you go about your business, a yawning emptiness erupts. Where are those voices in your head? The characters who keep you company? The plot threads that invade your dreams?

When you can’t stand the silence any longer, the time has come to plant the seed for the next story or the next child, if you will. The joy of creation becomes impossible to deny.

So when you finish a book, how does it make you feel? Are you elated, relieved, or depressed?

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