Get a good look at her. Except for the blue hair, that was me four days ago (sans the slender arms). With my last round of revisions done I loaded my MS “Butterfly Hearts” onto two different flash drives, sent copies to friends who volunteered to be readers, and then powered off my laptop. First reaction? Whew, finally. Then I massaged my wrists, smiled, and went on with my day.
Within hours I wanted to go back and open up the MS. No, I shouted back to my inner voice, leave it be, go on to the next MS that’s been waiting for revisions for two months. I opened that MS, working title of Strong Women Grow Here, and began reading the first page. My eyes glazed, the words made no sense, pace slowed, I couldn’t recognize my protag, Juana’s, voice. I almost felt dizzy, discombobulated. What the heck is happening here?
Over the weekend I spoke with my writing mentor, Amada, and described the feelings. She’s published four children’s books and her latest (My Handy Writing Book) just came off the press last week. She listened and nodded her head, she understood, she’s been there. Her suggestion was to do a ritual cleansing with sage and say goodbye to Lili and the other characters in the novel. Hmmm, yes I nodded, I could do that.
Later that evening I found my white sage in my abalone shell. It smelled so, so “sagey,” deep and powerful. I felt it’s soft as a kitten silver white leaves, wrapped in cotton red yarn, and breathed in deep. High Mass in Latin, incense lanterns, low murmurs of prayers, pow-wows, curanderas and sobadoras floated through my mind. And then a huge indigo NO in block letters bulldozed through my thoughts. What? NO, you can’t purge Lili, Vero, Joe, and the kids. NO you can’t cleanse them from your home. Now I’m drawing back my drapes and looking out the window, who’s there?
Then I sat with myself. What do you want to do, what are you feeling? I’m embarassed to say. I feel, I think I’m mourning them, I’m depressed, like the postpartum blues and empty nest mixed together. But it’s a novel, my logical self says-no, the creative self insists. It’s the post novel blues. Did such a thing exist?
When in doubt, Google it. I found a 2008 article by Vickie Britton where she quotes ” It’s long been known that writers, artist, and others in the creative fields can become prone to depression, especially when people finish writing (their novel).” It may be long known, but I didn’t know that, but it does make me feel better.
A few suggestions, cited in various articles, popped up in my search:
- Write your next new outline, brainstorm new ideas, write a short story (are you kidding me?)
- Try something new and different that is not writing (hmm, maybe)
- Organize your work space, clean your desk (uh, no)
- Use the time to transition (to what?)