One of my friends told me shortly after our sons were born that she had looked into his face after a long and arduous labor and had felt nothing.
She said it in a very matter-of-fact way, (she had given birth before) but I looked at my son– more precious already to me than my life, and it struck terror into my heart.
A month or so later she was head over heels in love with her boy but it took a while.
Another one of my friends, first time mother, endured the most frightful depression after giving birth. Initially she was an empty shell, then it was like watching a long, slow-fuse burning. Would it fizzle out or would it ignite? We were all thankful when she got help.
I’m not the first to compare writing with giving birth; the pains, the joy, that weird feeling when you’re all done which is made up of equal parts satisfaction and disappointment.
Not everyone has or is able to give birth but it’s the same feeling you get on completion of any big project where you’ve pushed yourself either physically or mentally as hard as you can.
I felt it too when I trained for the Golden Gloves only to not compete due to paperwork mix-up. Afterwards I was too old to try again. Actually there was fear and relief involved in that too which also fits the writing analogy quite well. I mean, aren’t we always worried that the writing just isn’t good enough?
An outpouring of any kind results in a period of uncertainty.
There is a calm in it but there is also an emptiness.
And a letting go.
You’ve done every thing you can do as far as this particular challenge is concerned and now it’s time to put it down and go on to the next thing or
wallow for awhile without direction. Either action is just fine.
I was ecstatic after giving birth. I was ecstatic after finishing my first book. (And same thing with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and so on). And again after final revisions,
and then like balloon with a leak the good feeling drained away. Because after that it was just a matter of waiting. For the rest of the crew to get on board and do what they do. It was out of my hands.
Many writers I know keep a few things on the go all the time. They never run out of things that need to be done. I think that works most of the time although you shouldn’t just plug away at something just because. To write a whole book you have to feel it and you have to love it and want it.
Maybe sometimes you just have to suck it up. Be bereft for a little while. Rest and contemplate what you have made. And begin to think of what you can make next.