Postpartum: How to Go On After Completing a Novel


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So it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here—but I’ve got good reason. I’ve been in the trenches finishing the first draft of Novel #2. I’m happy to announce the official birth of a 93,333 word manuscript on May 22. It may be sacrilegious to write this, but writing a novel really is quite a bit like the birth of a child for me (and I can say that since I’ve done both twice now).

Now, before you think I’m crazy, let me share the similarities. This second book has taken me somewhere near the nine-month timeframe to draft. During that time, I’ve faced plenty of discomfort, nervousness, paranoia, and complete lack of control—all words that I would have used to describe both my pregnancies. And just when I started to wrap my brain around this new little being inside of me, it was time for said being to pop into the world.

As excited as I’ve been to finish my second book, I’ve been going through an odd sort of separation anxiety this past week. First, it was my playlist that I had to say goodbye to. I’ve had the same Pandora channel playing while I wrote for nearly the duration of that recent project, but when I turned it on this week, it didn’t feel right anymore. The music seemed jarring, and I found myself distracted by it rather than inspired.

The loss of the music wasn’t as monumental as the loss of my characters. Over this past week, I’ve had to come to the realization that I won’t be spending the same amount of time with them ever again. It’s bizarre to admit it, but those characters are like good friends by now. I’ve spent nine months in their heads (or is it that they’ve spent nine months in mine?), and even though I have a great deal of editing left to go, our relationship is on the downslope. I know fully that soon I’ll be engrossed in a new project—and these characters will go back to just being what they are—figments of my imagination.

We recently celebrated the birthdays of my two kids, complete with cake, balloons, presents, and all the fanfare such events require. Yet, there is a piece of me that mourns another year of childhood behind them.  Just as I have to trust my children to go out into the world—to be who they are—I have faith that this new novel will do the same. Make Mama proud, Baby!

Okay, now tell me, do you experience separation anxiety after you’ve completed a major project? How do you let go?