Literary Post-Partum Blues ~ when the book is done, what then?

  The Flow Form pool, at the Chalice well gardens, in Glastonbury. I thought it looked womb-like.

Literary Post-Partum Blues ~ when the book is done, what then?

 

 I finally completed a novel yesterday. You’d imagine that’d make me deliriously happy, wouldn’t you? However, I think most experienced writers make few assumptions about how it might feel, because it varies so much. With some books you feel like having a party; others you feel like getting hammered quietly somewhere alone, curled up in a corner with a bottle of Scotch. And yet others you sit there and think, OK, what now.

I don’t mean the obvious side of things, like editing or proofreading, or if you are intending to submit to a publisher, query letters or the rest of that side of things. Nor do I mean leaving it alone for a month or two and then ripping it up and starting again.

It’s the emptiness.

I’ve said goodbye to people who have been intimately close to me for however long it’s taken. People, not characters. I’ve said goodbye to friends who mean a lot to me and I need to let them go. I mustn’t obsessively spy on them as they make their way.

And the emptiness feels a lot like a condition that affects a surprising number of women each year: Empty Womb Syndrome. You’ve carried this baby for nine months, under your heart and now it’s out. But the baby inside is gone forever. That tiny being with only potential to protect it no longer exists: the sleeping bundle in the crib cannot be the passenger who kicked and squirmed inside you for so long. I felt the same when I had my only child, and for a few days, the solution was obvious.

The solution for this ache is obvious and yet, just as it is for Empty Womb syndrome, so wrong.

I can’t just start another novel immediately. Just as my body needed time to recover from birthing a child, so my psyche needs time to recover from birthing a book.

So you see, the question What now, is a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Last night I made a decision that whatever comes later, I would go through the process of marking this event with a small celebration. So we had a Thai takeaway, a bottle of fizzy wine (I’m not a big fan of champagne, but bubbles of some sort are obligatory celebration aides) and I also had a large Scotch. (Highland Park single malt, if anyone’s interested. I really like good whisky and I have a collection of them.)

Today, I am waking up to face the emptiness and to sit at the side of that void and wait.

At least I don’t have to face nappies as well.

Still Crazy After All These Years ~ or Why I Am Still Blogging

Still Crazy After All These Years ~ or Why I Am Still Blogging

Today is the second anniversary of my first post here at Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking and the last few days have been full of thoughts concerning why I blog.

Why does anyone blog? I guess to answer that question you might need to do a comprehensive survey because the chances are people blog for some very diverse reasons. I chose to blog because I felt I had things to say, and I sought dialogue with others. Unlike those who begin a blog with a ready-mixed agenda and function, I really didn’t know what I was doing or why. At the start, I had no clue about building a platform for my books, or any of the things I have since read that writers’ blogs aim to do. I just wanted to talk to people and to have them talk to me.

It’s said that at fifty you get the face you deserve and I think the same is true about blogs. When you let a blog develop without forcing it into a mould, it can become something that reflects you very clearly, and the readership self-selects too. People who enjoy what you write come back, they subscribe, they comment, and in many cases, they become real friends.

In two years I have posted over 460 posts, some of which have sunk into obscurity, and some of which still get numerous daily visits. My most popular post is the one concerning Susan Howatch, second most popular is About Me and coming a close third, Miracle at Mont St Michel. If you haven’t had a look at the astonishing photograph on that post, please do; I promise you it is genuine and unaltered.

A short way down the list of popular posts is Strangers and Pilgrims, about the novel I released into the wild last year. It’s doing quite well so far, but if you’d like to see this unusual and genre-defying story for yourself, it is available from Amazon and also as a download. The reviews at Amazon speak for themselves. I’m not very good at blowing my own trumpet, but thankfully others are happy to do so for me. Those who have read it have found it to take them on a journey that stayed with them long after the last page was read. I’d like to think it has changed lives in a small but significant way. Anyone who buys a copy and posts a review between now and the release of my next novel will get a free pdf of that new novel.

I’ve posted a number of short stories, which are currently being gathered into a book ready for distribution in the Spring. This will be available as a free download and also as a hard copy. If you fancy being one of the first to get your hands on this unique volume, please get in contact (details on the Contact Me page).

Anyway, finally, I would like to say a massive big thank you for all my readers, many of whom are now my friends, and express my deep gratitude to you for making blogging such a worthwhile experience and a journey that has taken me to places I never dreamed I’d ever go.

Thank you. I love you.