Some books, I've finished and I want to have a party. Others books I finish and I want to take a nap.
It's much easier to talk about the party-feeling books. First of all, they're joyous and people like celebrating. If I put an ! at the end of "I finished," you would know that I'm having a little party in my heart and I want you to bring cake and funny hats and we're not going to sleep for days.
However, H+MC is not a party book. It's a book that I finished and I wanted to go to bed. I went to bed, and the next day I wanted to nap.
Then, I cried.
I don't think I've ever felt so miserable about finishing a book. Not for the reasons you might think. It's not because I've been working on this book for so long. Although it has taken me a year. It's not because I killed a cherished character—I did, but that happened many pages ago. It's not even because the ending is sad—it is—because I respect the ending.
H+MC has been a hard book to write, and I'm not thinking of the massive cast or juggling points-of-view, although those were challenges. I feel like I've written this book while dealing with external forces far beyond my control. I began querying P+FD, which has been a rough process, and came in and out of hospitals while trying to write this draft. I know we're not supposed to talk about this until we're published and somehow "safe," but there were so many times over the course of this book when I wondered how many times I was supposed to be knocked down and rejected before I was supposed to stop getting up. When do you stop?
This book almost didn't happen. But I finished the last couple words—"She flew"—and I went to bed. I woke up, and the next morning, I got another rejection. Most days, I can laugh about it. Seriously. Most days I can rattle off a million jokes, but there was something about finishing the final words of the sequel the night before that made it all hard to swallow.
What am I doing?
If this post were a perfect three act structure, I would now have something inspiring to tell you. It would fill you with joy and we would start our own dance party. But I have nothing to report.
Months ago I had planned to write the next book, and even as I typed out the last pages of H+MC, I imagined that next book.
I'm not so sure now.
One part of me—a very angry part—doesn't want to write anything. Another is at peace with reading friends' and internet acquaintances' stories, catching up. Another part of me proposes writing something light and happy as a palette cleanser, but what that might be exactly, I don't know. Then there's a furious part that keeps shouting at me watch me write that third book to show exactly how little I care.
I mean, that's a lie. Of course I care. That's why I want to sleep and don't know what to do. If my life were a built around a three act structure, I would believe and keep going no matter what, and one day, I'd win. But I'm an adult and there's that nagging you've written seven novels already, shouldn't you be good enough by now, what's wrong with you, stop? There are people who fail. Not everyone gets to be a prima ballerina, but every little girl wants that when she walks to her first dance class.
Of course, some people become ballerinas. But most compromise with their dreams, become dance instructors. And eventually, some just stop.
I just need to stop for a moment.