There is no greater thrill for an author than finishing a book. Publishing a book doesn't compare. Winning an award doesn't compare. Not even cashing a nice fat royalty check can compare. (Although my husband might disagree!) When I type those magical words THE END, choirs of angels burst into the Hallelulah Chorus and for a few magical days, food tastes better, music sounds sweeter and all is right with the world.
BUT that doesn't explain why only one day after I finished my latest book I found myself in a sobbing heap on the bed. Now I will confess that I was both physically and mentally exhausted. I hadn't had a day off in at least a month. I'd been waking up between 4 .m. and 5 a.m. every morning with my mind brimming over with fresh ideas for new scenes. Plus I knew I only had one day after finishing the book to pack and prepare for a writer's conference in Cocoa Beach. If I'd have been Lindsey Lohan or Mariah Carey, my "manager" would have probably carted me off to some nice hospital with a swimming pool and tennis courts and had me admitted for "exhaustion." Because after surviving an entire month of the most grueling sort of deadline and actually accomplishing what I set out to do, I finally cracked.
My poor husband walks in and says, "What's wrong, honey?" Blinded by tears, I gazed up at him through swollen eyes and wailed, "MY BOOK IS O-O-O-OVER! I MISS PORTIA AND J-J-J-JULIAN SO-O-O-O-O MUCH!!!" Now if I were my husband (or any of the other Squawkers) and had been forced to listen to me whine and complain nearly every day for the past 8 months about how desperate I was to finish this book, I would have carted me off to some nice hospital with time-out rooms and a healthy stock of Thorazine. I have to tell you that I had NO idea that shocking thought was lurking in my subconscious until I blurted it out, but it definitely backs up a theory I have about writing.
Books are hard to finish (nearly impossible!) because subconsciously writers don't want to finish them. Although consciously our most overwhelming desire is to be done with it, secretly we feel exactly like a reader feels when they say, "Oh, I didn't want that book to end! I wish it could have gone on forever!" With I finished the book, my life began anew, but the lives of my beloved characters ended.
Readers often ask me if I re-read my books after they're finished. And this is the precise reason I usually don't. When I'm writing a book, it's as if I'm actually living the story right along with my hero and heroine. I feel their every emotion, fall madly and passionately in love, and their memories become my own. If I try to re-read one of my stories, it's as if I'm looking at a photo of a high school sweetheart I'll never see again and it makes my heart ache.
But I've decided there's only one cure for the post-book blues--start another book! Then there will be other lives to live, more memories to make, and the chance to fall madly and passionately in love all over again.