Always at loose ends after finishing a book
The work in progress always takes center stage.
Once the manuscript is turned over to the publisher, that stage gets rather quiet, almost like a theater at night with nothing but the ghostlight providing enough light to move around without tripping over something.
While there’s still work to be done (edits, proofreading, description, cover art, promotion), I always feel at loose ends. I suppose it’s that way with other major projects whether one is cleaning out the attic or garage or building a shed for yardwork tools.
This would be a great time to tidy up my den, go through filing cabinets looking for stuff that ought to be thrown away, polish up the web site, or write blog posts with titles like “Always at loose ends after finishing a book.” Trouble is, it’s hard to concentrate on them because when one is writing a book, one becomes addicted to writing the book. When the book project changes from author to publisher, not writing the book is like giving up cigarettes or maybe heroin.
Maybe this is why some writers drink. If one stays drunk for a few weeks or so, s/he won’t feel at loose ends. Tempting, but I don’t think that’s how I’m going to handle this loose ends thing. Some writers have lists of the books they want to write, complete with either scribbled notes (while drunk after finishing the last book) or outlines and synopses. I don’t. I’m a one idea at a time kind of person. Sure, I often joke about tossing out books with titles like Lust Behind the Billboard, but I’ll never do it.
- Take up bird watching. (Unfortunately, most of the rare birds are in Walmart and I really don’t like going there.)
- Clean out the garage. (I have no idea where to put all that crap.)
- Go through filing cabinets. (After cleaning out one filing cabinet drawer this morning, I was so bored, I almost started writing a cautionary tale called Lust Behind the Billboard.)
- Dress up like John Grisham and shake people’s hands at bookstores. (Naah, the police would probably show up and then the whole thing would get on CNN when a novice journalist writes a story called “Author John Grisham Thrown In The Slammer.”)
- Do what I’ve always wanted to do. (Too old to do it.)
- Borrow a time machine, go back in time, and change my birthday so I’m young enough to do what I always wanted to do. (When this happens in novels, hideous things happen. Just look at the mess in Stephen King’s 11/22/63 when some guy goes back to Dallas to save Kennedy.)
That’s all she wrote, idea-wise. Plus, I know better than to tinker with loose ends. When I was little, my mother and grandmother got really pissed off whenever they saw me pulling on a loose thread in my favorite shirt or sweater. (“Malcolm, you ignorant slut, if you pull that thread, the whole shebang will unravel.”)
You’re in a world of it whenever the whole shebang unravels.