“‘The End’: the most beautiful words in the English language,” says bestselling novelist M C Beaton. But once the euphoria of completing your work-in-progress fades, there can follow a crippling writer’s hangover (speaking figuratively here, of course!) Jeff Shear offers the writer’s equivalent of the prairie oyster (traditional hangover remedy of raw eggs and Worcestershire sauce).
The scene: It’s the morning after the night before, and the last happy words you typed — “The End” — fade from memory, leaving behind the question, What shall I write next? Maybe the thought turns to something still more hollow and follows from “I did it!” to something like, This is it? Wrong questions. Everyone feels the let-down that follows the elation. When you’ve completed writing a piece, you need rest. Everyone experiences the lull and let-down: TV producers get it. Editors of content get it. Even poets in the news get it. Let’s call it, the morning-after effect.
Be sure, the phenomenon need not show up like a sudden lump of depression swelling in the gut. No. It can arise in the form of a statement of cruel calculation, the cry of the lost author: What shall I do next? Don’t be fooled. That’s not the real issue. The real issue is the morning after.
Is there a cure? (Nah.) Who knows? But it’s pretty clear to me, at least, that the sensation arises from events in the past; it is more a manifestation of what you’ve done than you’ll do. It’s not the future you fear, though it may feel like it. It’s actually the past from which you’re suffering. You’re haunted and tired. Now you’ve got baggage. The symptom is not the sickness. This is really about well-earned exhaustion, the fatigue that follows the days of whine and roses. Yes, Mabel, there is such a thing as a writer’s hangover. (Forget the cheap Scotch.) Properly stated, it’s not knowing what to do next, it’s the suffering you feel after the toil.
The Indie Twist
Being an indie author might make the morning-after effect far worse. Obviously turning from the workroom hours of delicate silence and suddenly mushing out into the plodding huckster realm of marketing, selling, and how-do-you-do-my-dear (“What did she say their name was? Oh, this is so embarrassing!”) promises more than a few volts of electric shock along with that terrible plunge into icy water. Suddenly you find you have to go out and mingle! If you’re me, you go out and mangle. So many things to do – pump the social network, learn the ACX drill, think about future technology, pay your ALLi dues, gather an email list, business cards, maybe start a newsletter. And you must do all this without writing a single bit of the lit you wanted to write in the first place. Oh, for that snugly little room you cursed for its loneliness!
But I’m overcomplicating matters. Let’s keep it simple. Know this: When you finally write the words, The End, and your book is out for everyone to see, and you face a sudden onrush of silence, or the desperate fear you’ll never write another word, be fully aware that it’s a moment that happens to everyone. I know this not because I’ve interviewed everyone but because it’s only natural. Get ready for it, just as you got ready for that morning you sent your innocent child off to school. (“Did I pack a lunch?”)
Shed no tear. Not knowing what to do next, — or even if you do know what you’re doing next — the slog is the same. There will be choices many and difficult that may require a rewrite that needs to be rewritten. There is going to be the morning after. It’s coming. Pull up your socks.Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
What do you do when you reach the end of a writing project? Please feel free to share any tips or anecdotes via the comments box.