Finishing a novel is always a bittersweet experience. It brings a tremendous rush of accomplishment, which I think partly relates to the geometric aspect of a novel: a good novel has an arc, it has a clearly delineated shape, and there's a kind of ingrained satisfaction you get to completing its symmetry. Then there is the fact that you just plain made it through the slog--through all the days when every single cell in your body resisted the computer and the page, when each sentence took forever to work its way out of the muddle and murk of your brain, when friends were calling and the sunny skies were taunting you to come out and enjoy! When you finish a novel, you have once again come to the end of a long, hard, dusty, and often grueling road...like a marathon, except without anyone to cheer you on and offer you little sippy cups full of juice at the finish line.
On the other hand, finishing a novel often fills me with sadness, and a kind of regret; for months I have toiled among the same characters, in a specific world, and all of a sudden they are gone, and the world buds away from me, complete, floating off into the ether like a soap bubble. It leaves me with a sense of loss that (I'm ashamed to admit) has more than once made me cry.
Last week I finished the sequel to Delirium, which was an interesting experience for me partially because I knew it was not the end of these characters or this world--I still have a final book in the trilogy to complete, and my mind almost instantly began cycling forward to the new book, plotting and scheming and thinking about what will come next. But if completing Delirium 2 didn't leave me with the usual sadness, it also didn't leave me with the typical feelings of accomplishment; the road is not yet finished.
For now, however, I am in that blank and shimmering space in-between books, a wonderful and also terrifying place to be. I won't start Delirium 3 until early next year, so for now novelistic possibilities are endless. I could write a book of poems! (For the sake of all potery-lovers/readers in the world, however, I'll spare you.) Or a rhyming picture book! Or a murder mystery featuring a delinquent cat detective! (Again, in the interest of good taste, I won't--but I could.)
This will be my week to explore a new project, and once again get started on another marathon slog toward the finish line. Maybe I'll invest in some sippy cups, just in case. :)