When, after several years of cognitive hard labor and world-class napping, I finished my upcoming novel for the seventeenth and final time, what I felt was a combination of relief and disappointment. I was relieved that my Sisyphean struggle had come to an end, and uncharacteristically proud of the accomplishment, but I missed the characters I’d come to know so well, and the story itself, which had come to life in my hands, drawn me in, driven me insane(r), and captivated me.
But now, with more than three weeks remaining until Ways of Leaving is finally allowed to roam wild (I enjoy foreplay as much as anyone, but 20+ days seems cruelly punitive), I’m becoming twitchy and brain-tied. I’m increasingly eager to see my book in bookstores, on the Internet, in public restrooms, and in prison libraries, to finally get it into the hands of readers throughout the free world and in Texas.
I’ve given birth to a fully formed entity, yet I remain umbilically tethered to it, unable to form an intimate connection with any other work. I’m in creative limbo. For the sake of my fragile sanity, I need to start something new, but until this cord is severed and my offspring is out in the world sharing its bittersweet breath with others, I fear I won’t be able to move on.
Adding to my creative infecundity is the fear that, if Ways of Leaving is almost as good as the early reviewers say it is, I’ll never be able to repeat the performance. If I can’t create a single paragraph worth keeping, how can I expect to write another novel worthy of such praise?
I realize, of course, how fortunate I am to be in this position, to have completed my novel and found an enthusiastic publisher and a talented cover designer, to have created something I can feel truly proud of. I understand that it probably seems churlish, whiny, and appallingly unappreciative for me to grumble because my novel is about to be published. Well, perhaps it is, but at least I’m doing something to keep my mind off the fact that my novel is about to be published.
And the truth is, if I weren’t complaining there’d be no way to be sure I’m me.