I’m nearing completion of the first draft of Accidentally Inspired. It should be done this week. And it leaves me wondering: what the fargo do I do when it’s over?
Like Inigo Montoya after slaying the six-fingered man, I fear I may run out of steam a bit once the Project is over. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from running, it’s that momentum is key. He who stops might never get started again. Succumb to allowing myself time off and next thing I know I’m sitting on that draft that I never did anything with, sucking down more Cheetos and licking the orange dust off my fingers instead of getting it all over my keyboard. Except that in this example, getting the cheezdust on my keyboard would be something that’s desirable. Y’know, because that’d mean I’m using it, and otherwise I’m just a sloth with Cheeto fingers.
I’ll allow myself a little time to decompress after finishing this draft. Writing it, as much as I’ve enjoyed the process, has been taxing and exhausting in some ways I never imagined. Be it slogging through endless hours of drafting characters who, to be honest, I’m growing a bit tired of, or writing into the wee hours of the night because I can no longer find time during the day, I’m beat. I feel a bit like Forrest Gump after five or six trips running across the country: I’m tired, and I think I’ll go home now.
So a LITTLE bit of time off, but not so much time that I slip into the warm comfortable Snuggie of NotWriting. Because as comfortable and comfortING as that Snuggie is, I recognize it now for the deathtrap it is. The deathtrap that hoovers up the creative energy I should have been venting for the last ten years of my life and devours it like a great Sarlacc pit in the desert, where it withers and dies and doesn’t give birth to interesting stories or make me feel wonderfully productive and interesting or make me rich and famous (because that’s likely in this path I’m trying to walk, right? RIGHT???). No, as inviting as that Snuggie is, I will be doing my damnedest to let it collect dust and spiderwebs in the garage, because even though I’ve spent the past four months writing my butt off, I feel like there are miles to go before I wake.
As the proverbial door closes (okay, it’s not like the door closed because I took that door and explored the fargo out of it, but let’s pretend the metaphor holds), what proverbial window stands open in front of me? It’s hard to say. I’ve got the other novel ideas that I was considering back in March when this jolly parade first lurched like a herd of turtles into motion. I’ve got a not-insignificant little collection of Flash Fiction which I’ve dutifully written almost every week; many of those stories are itching to be expanded, fleshed out and stitched into a living, breathing and terrifying Pavlak’s Monster if I can wrangle a bolt of lightning into their harvested parts. And of course, after a bit of time passes, I’ll need to start on the monolithic task of editing AI, which means I’ll need to sharpen my bonesaws and reinforce my sledgehammers to start smashing that thing to pieces to put it back together Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger-like. Or, who knows? Perhaps I’ll be struck with a new bolt of inspiraton, like a lonely sheep in a lightning storm.
Um… pardon me for a second.
Sheep gets struck by lightning, develops super powers, bites farmhand, farmhand develops superpowers, gets the girl, saves the earth, knits a lovely lightning-imbued sweater, rides his shorn lightning-sheep into the sunset.
Okay, I’m back.
Anyway, if you’ve read my previous posts you might know that I’m a tremendous fan of Douglas Adams, and anytime I can compare myself or my work to his stories I end up feeling in a better way about myself, so here it is. In the latter phases of his last (not really the last) book of his Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy (not really a trilogy), the hero finds himself on a faraway planet viewing God’s last message to his creation. He sees it, sighs, and says, essentially, “well, that’s that.” And goes home. Of course, Adams decided he hadn’t had enough after all and wrote another book after that. But I feel very much like that. Here I am, novel nearly finished, and there’s a message just over the horizon in flaming letters forty feet high that I can’t quite make out yet, but I have the sneaking suspicion that whatever message those letters carry, it won’t fill me with the deep spiritual calm and satisfaction that this little endeavor of mine was worth doing, and it’s done now, so now I can rest. It probably won’t mean anything at all, in keeping with my little philosophy on this site: “Things don’t always have to mean things.” But it’ll be there, and I’ll see it, and then I’ll have to find something else to do.
I’ll be on the lookout for any windows that happen to be popping open in my near vicinity. Or maybe I’d be better off setting some charges and blowing down a wall.
Any fellow writers out there have advice on how to tackle this mounting sense of… I dunno, fear? dread? exhilaration? aimlessness? Whatever it is that comes with “finishing” (yeah, it’s not even really nearly almost finished) a project?