What do you do when you’ve finished writing your novel? Start another one, right? Well, I’d really like to do that, believe me, and I know – I know – any prospective agent will want to hear all about it. But I can’t. Not yet. I need some recovery time. My creative resources have been seriously depleted by the sustained effort of writing a novel and I am quite simply knackered.
Not just knackered. I am also deflated and, dare I admit it, somewhat depressed. The driving force behind my days, the activity I’ve tried so hard to clear space and time for, has disappeared. It has left me adrift, without focus, waiting to be rescued by a merciful literary agent, the odds stacked against me: a situation over which I have no control. It’s hard not to wonder, at times, what was the point?
In a previous post, I wrote about how I had taken the opportunity of a break from my novel to put my house in order. Well, now that I’ve finished the novel, I’ve decided to put my writing in order. To soothe my malaise, I have resolved to pay attention to other aspects of my writing.
Here’s what I’m doing.
I’m reading. Yes, I was reading before, but not so much. Now that I have more time, I’ve turned to the numerous books I already own that I haven’t yet read and I have bought some new books to go with them. There is no better boost for a writer’s mental health than to feast on the work of others.
I’m writing. Not a novel, but short stories. I believe it’s not uncommon for novelists to do this in between novels. It makes sense. The short story, whilst a very exacting art form, doesn’t require the same kind of stamina as a novel. A first draft can be accomplished in a matter of hours, even if the finished product ends up taking years. I’m also making an effort to study this somewhat alien form. I’m reading lots of short stories and reading about writing short stories.
I’m attending talks about publishing. Okay, so my previous blog testified to a less than auspicious example of this. But there are other events in the diary about which I’m more hopeful. One or two will bring me into direct contact with agents and give me the opportunity to pitch my novel. At least that feels more positive than sitting around waiting for that elusive email which could be the miracle cure.
I’m trying out a couple of writers’ groups. This also is a slightly precarious endeavour as writers’ groups vary widely, as do the members within each group. On my MA, I realise, standards were pretty high. No need, however, for anyone to bow down in mock worship upon hearing I’ve done an MA, as did the members of the first group I sampled, much to my dismay.
To be honest, the main impetus for attending these groups is from a social point of view. Writing is a lonely existence, all the more so when you stop for a moment and take a look around.
I’ve been compiling a list of competitions and magazines to which I intend to submit my work. That way, I have deadlines to meet and tangible goals to target.
So you see, I have been trying. I’ve taken some positive steps to alleviate these post novel blues. Like any recovery process it takes time. But it is helping. Perhaps the next step is to set up a self-help group.
Hi. My name’s Claudia and I’ve just finished a novel.