Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ending the Hangover; Loving the Process

You know the feeling... you've devoted numerous hours of your free time lost in a fascinating book, learning about new locales and befriending interesting characters. Somehow in the process you've become enraptured and begin looking for any excuse to ignore your daily life so you can crack open your new favourite book hoping to get lost in its pages. So rare is this feeling. How wonderful it feels to have found a story, an author, a protagonist that speaks to you like no one else. And then...

It's over.

If you're lucky the author will have a backlog of material to dive into while you wait, but sometimes you're not so lucky.

The book hangover is the same for authors as well. A writer like me can spend a year or more on a single book, researching, plotting, writing and revising. The book becomes my lover and nemesis. My friend and foe. I get used to the rhythmic push and pull of storytelling. One week I am on top of the world, pleased with the progression of my story, and the next I fight the urge to highlight it all and hit 'delete'. As I come closer to the end, the crescendo, the piece takes on a presence all it's own. With one final read through I can feel the pride blossoming deep within me. My imaginary friends have come through for me once again, aiding my desire to write really, really good stories. We are one, them and I. We did it. We produced another tale to enthral and entertain.

And then it's over.

 The only way I know to end the sagging feeling of the book hangover is to dive into the next one almost as soon as the draft gets to my editor's email inbox. Months later, while readers are busy devouring my new release, leaving pleasant reviews (and sometimes not so pleasant ones) I am already deep into the next project. It's a feeble attempt to revive that feeling of euphoria, the feeling of escape and acceptance granted to me by my characters.

Don't get me wrong, I love hearing from readers about their experiences with Peter and Margaret. Often those notes come to me at very serendipitous times (usually when I am pulling my hair out over a particularly tricky passage or when I'm reeling from another lack lustre review). This period of reader celebration becomes a part of the ebb and flow of novel writing as well. Their enthusiasm becomes infectious, spurring me on when I feel like giving up and sometimes bringing plot ideas to light that I hadn't thought of before. And so it goes.

In the end, it's not about book sales or Amazon rankings. Writing a book is really about the intricate relationship between author, reader and the characters they cherish.