What Do Writers Do When They Dont Write?
I'm not going to dispel any myths here - writers who have finally finished that piece of work which has consumed every part of their lives for month's, possibly years...are likely to go into a mini-meltdown.
Now it's not quite a tragedy (it's close) but what happens after that amount of creativity shuts down after having been in use for so long - does have major side effects that you normal folk just don't suffer from.
You see when a writer starts with a tiny seed of an idea, lovingly cultivating it, protecting it as it grows and watching it bloom into a fully-fledged concept of a story - it literally becomes a part of you. It is you, and you are it.
You bombard your family and friends with names they won't remember, tell them of genius plot twists long before you have even written the original plot and you reel off complicated dilemma's that give your book an edge - and eerily, which celebrity will play the protagonists if it ever reaches the big screen. (or is that just me?) Even the man at the bus stop is a possible ear for your near lunatic ramblings. Of course there is no-one that could possibly believe in your story as much as you do at this stage - only you as the writer can carry that kind of enthusiasm and excitement with such insane vigour.
So, when the ups and downs turn corners and bends, and the milestone of an ending creeps closer and closer until at last the last word has been exquisitely crafted into place, and when the final edit is completed, putting all of that energy and lust and love and hope away to sleep...what does actually happen to the writers mind and the home in which it lives?
For a while it follows the book to rest. Yes there are jubilation's of accomplishment, a little dancing and shrieking to the four walls. There may also be a phone call or ten thousand to those you have subjected to every clever sentence you wove. Ultimately though...there is a slump. A kind of fatigue which brings with it a vertigo, making you feel as though you have a foot in two separate worlds. It makes you dizzy. It takes time to acclimatise...and it takes even longer to accept that finally, after the highest climb of your life to date, that the journey has now come to an end.
Upon reflection, you quickly realise that you have to undo an addiction. You have been obsessive about writing your book, finishing it, polishing it and you suddenly need to find a way in which you are no longer driven by the desire to only sit and think and write. But you feel empty, and it's only the dull and incessant thuds of your fingers tapping on the nearest hard surface which tell you that you have nothing to do.
Of course, there is plenty to do. You just don't want to do those things. Housework or paying bills aren't nearly as much fun as creating another reality, there's no reward in doing those things. I tend to wander between rooms, looking for a reason to go back to my book - just in case I missed something! I also fool myself into believing that I need a well deserved break, that while my efforts are now focused instead on blogging and networking and seeking an agent or publisher - I don't need to write for a while. Hmm...
In truth there is no solution or respite. In my experience there's also no down time. Once you have opened up those gates of the literary divine, you will never be the same again. Yes you may be able to go to work, feed the children, smile at the lady down the road - even manage a coffee morning with friends, but sooner or later you will be drawn back to your desk like the word-junkie you've become, telling people that you are ill or busy just so that you can scribble your thoughts into a notepad...and you will settle down to do it all over again. It's in you. Your mind is different now and no matter how much you deny that you don't need to write - we all know that it's a tale as long as your arm.
Don't fight it. I'm not. My desk has gobbled me up for a second helping while I write the second in my series of novels - and I couldn't be happier.
Writer's write when they don't write, so don't let them tell you any differently :)
(Oh and they read a little bit too:)