Bye-bye, Novel. What’s Next?

Say one day you get an idea. You’re delusional enough to think it could be a book or something. So you gather up the stamina, drive, inspiration, guts needed to write it, you dig yourself out pockets of time, you bang your head against the wall, you let go of your grip of reality, you lose friends because you’re always at your writing spot writing, you let yourself think you should be allowed to do something this extravagant like be a novelist or something and… somehow… you complete that novel. That’s the most satisfying moment in the world, isn’t it?

So fast-forward past readers and revisions and crying over revisions and agents and more revisions and writing and writing, in whatever order you’ve done all that in, and fast-forward past book deals, because yes, let’s shove a book deal in there, and wow your editor took you out to lunch, and wow you have a deadline because the novel’s not done yet, and soon here it is, the deadline, IT IS FAST APPROACHING you are minutes away from it oh wow you got a few more days… and then, before you realize it, YOU HAVE FINISHED YOUR BOOK. And then, taking a deep breath, you have hit Send.

The manuscript is now in your editor’s hands.

This is where I am right now. My editor will do her job, and one day I’ll get an editorial letter and I’ll start revising, and I can’t wait, I’m so excited, but until then I am not touching the novel. I actually think it would be a bad idea to get my hands on it before my editor’s had her say. Maybe I’m not even allowed to. So I won’t. I won’t touch it. Not till it’s time to revise.

So here I am. Novel-less. I know I should start my next one; everyone says that. I am working up ideas to show my agent. I just…

I feel strange. Thursday was the day after I’d turned in the novel, and in the morning I was so happy and loopy and practically floating on air, but by afternoon, I felt… it’s weird to admit, but… almost sad. It was just an ordinary Thursday. How could it be an ordinary Thursday!

But it was.

I realized it was over. I’d finished the book. And I missed it terribly.

I felt—I still feel—like I have no purpose. Like what’s the point of me? Like, I’m walking down Broadway and I’m… what? A writer not writing.

I have to fix this immediately. I need a new novel to write and I need it NOW. So why is it so slow in coming?

So, other writers, how do you switch gears? What helps cleanse your palate for the next book? I had rice pudding last night, but it didn’t help.

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