Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Doing of It

The novel’s written, the launch party’s now what do I do with myself?

For weeks when John left the house each day to see clients or work in his office at Panera, I wanted to say, “Don’t leave. I don’t know what to do with myself.” I didn’t say it.

He left.

And then here I was pacing the house. I couldn’t clean. Cleaning takes concentration. I thought about putting things in piles—donate, sell, keep. Pare down. Get my life and this house in order. I’d pick up an old box of some cleaning product, and I’d think, I should take this to the recycling center where they could properly dispose of it. And then I’d put it back in the same spot. 

It was too quiet. I watched TV. I ate things.

I was exhausted. I had pains. Maybe my arteries were clogging? Maybe I was catching John’s heart problem? I went to the doctor. I was healthy as a horse. But why is health equated with horses? 

I reread Intentional and discovered some formatting errors. Imperfection. Aargh! Revisions would mean getting a new ISBN number, a new bar code. Resubmitting, fussing with the cover, redoing the Kindle and Smashwords versions. Would it mean a new Library of Congress number too? Just thinking about it made me feel even more exhausted.

The thing is, I was suffering from post book depression. Maybe it should be called Post Bookum Depression. It happens. When you're finishing a big creative project (or maybe any big project) there are frantic, final, all consuming finishing touches. When all the tasks are done, you’re wiped out. 

It’s over. Now what?

This isn’t to say that the month since the book launch has been all bad. Many people sent emails or even cards saying they liked my novel. And on March 11th, I got an email from Kirkus Reviews saying:
Your review for "Intentional" was selected by our Indie Editors to be featured in Kirkus Reviews 3/1 Issue. Congratulations! Your review appeared as one of the 20 reviews in the Indie section of the magazine which is sent out to over 5,000 industry professionals (librarians, publishers, agents, etc.) Less than 10% of our Indie reviews are chosen for this, so it's a great honor. You can view the 3/1 issue here: 
And that was wonderful. But I was still in a funk.

Then yesterday I went into the room where I write. I’ve heard that sitting too much isn’t good for you, and I’ve been sitting too much. So I piled some things up and arranged my laptop at elbow height. I would stand at least part of the time to write the next novel.

I stood there reading over the first few chapters of A Bird in the House, which I’d started months ago when Intentional was off at the copyeditor’s. Then I wrote the gist of each chapter on post-it notes, so I could rearrange them on my white board, clarifying the order of events, and hopefully stop confusing myself.

I looked out the window and there was a shockingly red cardinal in the oak tree. All the chapters in the new book start with a bird quote or fact. Cardinal? Yes! Chapter 4 would be titled, “Cardinal Sin”

I started writing the new chapter. A sentence. Another sentence, and then it happened...words appeared on the computer screen that I hadn’t planned. This was it. The fun part! 

The funk lifted. It was my best day in a month. 

The best part isn't the party. Its not the wine and hugs. Its not the compliments on a job well done, although those are all very wonderful. 

The very best part is the doing of it.