On Not Writing

The day after I got married I lost my mind.

The morning started out great.  We were staying in this beautiful B&B in western New York, which meant a cozy room in a Victorian house and breakfast on cute china. I had just married the love of my life, all was good.

But that first morning as a Mrs., after breakfast, I realized that it was over. I had no wedding to plan anymore.  This task that had consumed probably every waking moment of the past year and a half had suddenly evaporated. No more lists, tasks to cross off, phone calls to make.  Even when I wasn’t actively working on wedding planning, it had always been there there in the back of my mind.  A constant.  And then it was gone.

Commence freakout.  What am I supposed to do with my time now?  What did free time even mean?  Thankfully, I’m married to a great guy, who saw the freakout coming. He stuck a bottle of wine in my hand, plopped me in our room’s hot tub, and turned it on. I wasn’t allowed to come out till I’d had at least two glasses of wine.

I was reminded of all of this last weekend, when I finished a major rewrite of my novel.

I’ve been working furiously for the past three months on this rewrite.  Plotting out character arcs, fleshing out secondary characters, hell, fleshing out primary characters.  Reading about the Reagan-Gorbachev talks that led to glasnost, to remember the icy fear Americans felt about the USSR in the early 1980s. Researching 1990s pop music, because for the life of me I can’t remember what I listened to.  My legal pad o’notes went everywhere, slipped under the real work on my desk so if I had a brainstorm on a plot point I could scribble it down real quick and just look like a productive paralegal at the law office.  I toted around a binder with the printout of my manuscript, scribbling edits in purple pen at lunchtime (the guys at the pizza place down the street the other day asked how my book is coming along). I went to sleep planning out scenes, and woke up dictating dialogue into my phone.

Then last weekend, at about 1:30 on Saturday afternoon, I hit the words The End.  I nodded. The book was done. I fiddled with a couple little things. I sent it off to my CP. I took myself out for ice cream, and later that night my husband and I toasted the novel with shots of vodka. Then Sunday morning I freaked out. I didn’t have a draft to work on anymore.  Now what? Life is meaningless pass the rum.

I know the best advice is to start on another book. And I have some stuff in the hopper. But I don’t want to get out of the headspace of this novel, since I’ll have notes from my CP, and I want to give it one more readthrough after my brain recovers.  So the crazytimes for this book aren’t quite done yet.

So I wait. I do crazy things like read.  (Have you read Station Eleven yet?  Whoa.) And get enough sleep.   And walk the dogs.  And enjoy life.  All things I’ve forgotten to do since June.

But mostly, I’m trying not to freak out.  Because while we have wine, this house has no hot tub. Pity.


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