Sometimes events converge all at once. Graduating and starting a new job, weddings followed by new homes, and once in a while major social events collide with personal goals.
I had such a meeting last week. I finished my novel the same week we hosted a family reunion barbeque at our home.
We expected forty to fifty people but more than a hundred showed up. I anticipated cooking for four hours, I ended up grilling for nearly twelve. The cook-out turned out to be a grand success. Despite the large numbers, everyone ate well and was inspired by how much work we did in the garden.
After the last guest departed and the debris swept from the patio, what followed was a cathartic moment. There was nothing left to do, no pressing deadline, no plot lines to tidy up, no weeds to be pulled. I slipped into a restless coma for a few days, played a bit of Xbox, and watched a few mindless movies.
I didn’t step outside to look over my veggie domain or spend an hour with my fingers hovered over the keyboard trying to finish a paragraph. I haven’t written a word and I lack the desire to write. But I know I have to get back at it.
A friend of mine who wrote YA novels and a successful blog pulled off a major fundraiser last year and afterwards everything stopped. She became a victim of aftermath burnout. And I can really empathize with her.
Someone said that beginning a novel is like beginning a love affair, writing the book is like crossing a vast desert and finishing is like getting over the flu. The prospect of getting back to writing is like coming to the end of the wasteland and turning around for another go.
Sure, I could stop for a while; soak my feet in the cool waters of an oasis. But I’m a writer. I suffer from a debilitating condition that leads me to look over my shoulder at the empty dunes and turn my tattered shoes back to the wilderness. If I don’t take that first step back, I know I will be the next victim of aftermath burnout.