My next book, The Guild Conspiracy, is off to the copy-editor this week, and now that I no longer have any major editing to do on it, I’m in a weird sort of book limbo. I don’t really know what to do with myself. I’m not quite ready to jump into the next thing—or really decide what the next thing will be, if I’m honest—and I have enough other writerly things to keep me occupied should I so choose (prepping for my book’s release in August, setting up a cover reveal, contacting book bloggers, creating promo material, getting ready for upcoming conventions, etc.), and some not-writing-related things as well (costumes mostly)… any number of things to occupy my time. But I’m in this weird sort of book hangover, I guess, where I’m still kinda locked in the book I just finished, still thinking about the characters and the world and vaguely considering what might happen next. My brain is still in writing/editing mode for a book that’s already finished, and it’s a really weird place to be.
For the last several months—the past year, plus some—nearly every moment of my spare time has been focused on this book. Anytime I wasn’t otherwise mentally occupied, that’s the thing my mind always went to. Showers, boring car trips across state, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, waiting to fall asleep, etc. … any mindless task ultimately led me to think about my characters and plots and story what ifs. So now that the book is done, it’s like I don’t even know how to do anything else. I don’t know how to not be working the story now that there is no more work to be done.
I guess that’s what happens when you let your work consume your life like I do.
So what do I do now?
That’s the question I’ve been asking myself ever since I sent the final version of the book to my editor.
Take a break, probably. That’s what I should do. The logical part of my brain is very aware of that.
But the thing about letting your work take over, especially creative work, is that you don’t know how to be anything else. Or at least I don’t. If I’m not writing, what’s the point of me? It’s like I just don’t know what to do with myself anymore. Yes, I enjoy reading and watching television and playing videogames in my downtime, and yes I should probably clean the house now since I’ve neglected it for more than a year, but that’s usually how I spend my downtime, not my this-is-what-I’m-actively-choosing-to-do-today time. Doing things I enjoy is not necessarily productive, and I have this constant need to feel productive, like I’m doing something worthwhile. It’s a lot easier to relax and make time for myself when I have a project going, because I have work time, and then I have playtime. And when I lose that structure in my day, when I don’t have a project to work on, I get bored.
And yet at the same time, when I’m in this weird book hangover that I’m in now, I’m completely and utterly drained. I don’t have the energy or the focus or the creativity to work on something new. And the thought of jumping into the next project is terrifying. I just finished editing a book that took me eight months to write and nearly just as long to edit. Heck, even writing this blog post is difficult for me. The last thing I need to do is dive into editing another 100k+ novel or start a brand new project from scratch.
I hate this mega-bored, mega-drained stage between books where I just don’t feel like doing anything.
I don’t know how long it will be before I’m ready to tackle the next project in my queue, whether it will be a few days more, or weeks, or months. I do know that I need to refuel somehow, before I commit to any big projects again. And whether the answer is reading other books, filling up on fiction that isn’t mine, watching TV, or blitzing through a video game or three, or just my MMO of choice (which happens to be World of Warcraft right now), I suppose I’ll figure it out.
In the meantime, my TBR pile is literally 26 books on my nightstand, and that’s just the physical books that I own and have not yet read. There are at least a dozen more on my Kindle.
So I suppose I have some reading to do.