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On the tragedy of completion

No, this will not be about ‘the little death.’ Though actually, that’s not a bad way to describe it.

I feel like every writer has reached that point where they would give anything to be done with a certain project/draft/manuscript. The finish line is the goal! Having that final word count! Crossing off that final to do! Sending it off to betas or agents or publishers, or even just hitting post. It’s someone else’s problem now, baby.

But what comes after that? Naturally there’s the relief, the celebration, the smugness, the need to tweet gloatingly about it, but there’s also a special kind of emptiness that comes with it.

Because this post is prompted by the completion of our most recent project, I’ll quote from it.

“It’s going to be good,” Jordie told him afterwards, falling onto the suspect studio couch and sneezing as the detritus of decades-old dust and coke parties wafted around him. “When are you going to aim to release it?”

“Dunno,” said Nico. The album was clawing its way out of him, dragging itself out through his fingertips and scrabbling through his notebooks and wearing a groove in his brain, but he hadn’t thought through what would happen when it was all finally out. The thought of it being over made something huge and grief-bloated swell in his throat.

Whether a project takes you over and gags you until it’s done, or whether it’s a constant uphill battle drag yourself through, there’s a definite sense of loss that marks the end. It’s the loss of ‘but now what’s my purpose?’ and ‘but now what do I do with my evenings?’ and ‘oh god, I didn’t realize how much wine I was drinking until now.’

We’ve run the gamut of emotions when it comes to book completion, from genuine post-book depression to full-throated glee and everything in between, so you might call us experts, or at least, bitches who are willing to be patronizing on the topic.

The authoritative psychological stages of finishing your project are, as I see them: Relief, Helplessness, Depression, Bragging, Whining, and Starting Your Next One.

Guess what stage we’re at?

See you after the next one.

 

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