cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Emotional Spin Cycle

There's a real down-side to being an artist. At least, there is for me. Last week, while I was still on my Submission high, everything in the whole world was good. I was talented, the Afflection novel was the greatest work of genuis in the known universe, and the gum trees smelled of welcome and approaching summer and success.

And then, on Friday, the post-submission blues started to hit, as I knew they would. It's only taken me three decades, but I've finally started to know the process I go through after finishing a big project.

So this week I'm a hack, I'm worried about getting a job, the Afflection novel is the biggest, most self-indulgent, badly-written wank in the universe, and the smell of the gum trees means it's going to be an absolute stinker of a summer.

I do actually know, objectively, that the truth is somewhere in the middle. But that's the weirdness of emotion. The way it flavours everything. Like, for instance, if you'd asked me last week about the novel (poor special_trille and maharetr!), I would have told you, objectively, that the novel was on the competant side of mediocre (a perfectly reasonable outcome for a first draft), and that I was very keen to see how all the techniques I'd practiced in Falling Stars could be used in a longer work. This week, my objective assessment is that the novel is on the needs-a-lot-of-rewriting side of mediocre, and also that I don't think I've nailed as many of the techniques as I thought I had. And it's not the novel that's changed!

This paragraph contains a very general spoiler for the novel, so skip to the next one if that's a problem. I find it interesting that I've structured the novel to follow a similar emotional arc--except that it's the exact opposite of what I'm feeling. The first 10,000 words (while I was on the high) were the Angst of Doom, and now, just as I'm plummeting from the high to a low, it's moving onto the smutfest and the romantic comedy, and then, in another 10,000 words, the plan is to cycle back to Angst of Doom, and then... but that would be telling :)

The post-submission blues effects everything. Writing has slowed right down. I'm averaging a little under 1,500 words a day, compared to the 2,000 of the first week. I have less energy. I just want to stay in bed and do nothing except listen to my radio and dream.

And I know it's only going to get worse before it gets better. A lot worse.

And yet... nanowrimo is actually doing exactly the job I wanted it to do. Because the last time I went through this, the lows were lower and the highs were higher and the crash was that much harder, and I had even less energy, and I felt even more pessimistic about my ability to write. It was just worse in every way. So, despite everything, and even though I know I'm going to do a lot of cycling between up and down, and then down and down, before this journey is over, I'm actualy pretty optimistic. As long as I keep forcing myself to write, and do conference papers, and volunteer to do public speaking (even though I really don't want to), it might not be too bad.

I guess I'll soon find out.

And just so that this rant isn't entirely self-indulgent, I'll admit that I'm curious if other people go through a similar emotional journey after finishing a really big (life-changing) project. Feel free to rant right back at me with your horror stories. Who knows, it might make us both feel better :)
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