This is my first blog, and I know it’s customary for the first one to be introductory in nature, but I’m going against convention and starting with a mini-crisis I’m experiencing.
I have basically finished writing my novel—that is, I have no more major drafting or revising to do. My problem: I’m in a funk. How can this be? I should be rejoicing that I finished it. So what gives?
You know the feeling. You’re sad because you’re saying goodbye to close friends (and a few enemies, as well, although you’re probably glad they’ve been defeated!). You’ve lived with them for a long time, felt their pain, and rejoiced at their victories.
Your life seems empty. No longer do the characters and their predicaments dominate your thoughts upon waking and when you go to bed and every moment in between. How do you fill your days now?
Then you wonder: Can I ever write another novel? Are other characters out there waiting for me to tell their story? Will I be as inspired?
So how is a person to cope?
- Do something, even something mundane. One of the first things I did was to straighten up my desk, and semi-organize drafts of chapters, brainstorming, and snippets of scenes. Doing so helped me to remain connected to my story. But that can last for only so long.
- Look to others. I discovered that other writers have had a similar experience. Of particular comfort is Frank Herbert’s sage comment, “There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.” (quoted from “Finish writing a novel: 88 quotes that will help,” < http://www.nownovel.com/blog/88-quotes-to-help-you-finish-your-novel/>).
- Write about it. I wrote about my funk, first in my journal and now in my blog. After all, I’m a writer, and writers wrestle with problems and concerns, whether their own or their characters’, on paper, with words.
- Talk about it. Talk with God in prayer. He’s a great listener and comforter. Tell friends how you are feeling. Talk to people about your novel, as doing so keeps the story alive.
- View it as coming to the end of a chapter in your life. I consoled myself with the idea that the time for writing this novel has come to a conclusion and I’m free to move onto other projects. As Solomon said, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, English Standard Version).
Already I feel more upbeat. I may not be completely out of the doldrums yet, but I’m making my way through them. In reality, my novel has not disappeared over the horizon. It’s just moored in a safe harbor, waiting to be released out into the ocean of published works.
So I’m curious. You writers out there, have you experienced a funk upon completing a novel, and how have you coped?
And what about you readers of novels? How do you feel when you finish a really great book with characters you grew to love and hate? Have you mourned their passing? Have you wondered if you’ll ever read another novel as good as the one you just finished? How do you cope with the finished-the-novel blues?