I finished my book, Everything, at 2:08 yesterday afternoon.
When a writer finishes a book (and I expect I’m not alone in this), there is a moment in which we expect the sky to open and rays of light to shine down on us. We think, in our hearts of hearts, that the earth will stop turning. We expect a snowfall of glitter, and a flood of congratulatory phone calls; we prepare ourselves to receive the hosannas and celebrations of those nearest and dearest to us, and publisher enquiries that start falling out of magic air.
It doesn’t happen. We want it to. We hope it will. It doesn’t. It probably shouldn’t.
Writing is a pursuit conducted in solitude; enacted in silence and, in large part, met with it. Work that struggles for its place in a relatively indifferent universe.
We do it for ourselves, yes. Yet, too, we want more. We want life-altering dedication such as this to receive a nod that recognizes what it took to get this far. We want to preserve the illusion that our voices are not merely sailing off into the nothingness. Much of the time, the only nod we get is the one we see in the mirror. And maybe that’s as it should be. Maybe that’s the test.
Hopes and expectations are treacherous things. A writer must buy into their deceits if we want to survive. Buy into those conceits too much and this way a sour madness lies.
I will feel what I feel, knowing that it is absurd. I will feel what I feel until I don’t need to feel it any more. I will feel it and smile ruefully at my own folly…I will look sadly upon a day of disappointing blog numbers…then I will damned well fuhgeddaboudit and get back to the daily business of being the unwounded me.
I have been smart enough, this time, to leave myself some substantive but not impossibly-challenging work to do—the work that will allow me to call the book finished for real. But for today, I will fill my corner of that indifferent universe with the lack of me. I will roll up my sleeve and rummage around in the dark until I make contact with my more-solid self. And I’ll keep doing.
Because, really, there isn’t anything else I love quite as much as me doing this.