The End: What To Do When You Finish Writing A Book

Today I wrote two little words I wasn’t expecting to write until tomorrow. And yet, here we are. At this point.

My feet are tingling like they do when you have pins and needles, numb, as if you’ve been sitting awkwardly cutting off your circulation, but in that sweet spot, before the blood rushes back into the capillaries and it starts to sting.

The cells, the atoms in my cells, are vibrating with energy. The energy of having finished. It is a gentle excitement. Soft. Like the way you realise you are recovered. After the fact. You do not notice it at first because recovery, like writing, feels like a slog. Every step is an effort. You wade through concrete. You make progress. And you don’t. There is resistance. The task seems overwhelming and you pause at various points to take a breath. To rest. There is no ticker-tape parade upon success. No party. There might have been, if you’d noticed it at the time. But even as you were thinking your last disordered thought, even as you were writing your final sentence, you didn’t know. And then you did.

So what do you do when you finish writing a book?

  1. You write the end
  2. You drink cider in the sunshine with a friend
  3. You buy yourself some flowers
  4. You go for a run
  5. You make dinner for the family
  6. You water your plants
  7. You hug your partner
  8. You feed the cat
  9. You write a blog post
  10. You begin again, a new story

I have been finished with the story I’ve written for longer than I’ve been writing it. Soon, lovely readers, I will hand it over to you.

The Beginning…or, Somewhere

The screen is blank. The cursor blinking, ready and waiting to be pushed forward by keystrokes that form words, sentences, coherent thoughts.

Writing a blog post was supposed be easier than editing my book. But it’s not.

Sometimes, when there is too much to say, it’s easier to say nothing. I don’t know where to start. But maybe that’s the point. Do we ever? Is there even a beginning?

Time is a human construct based primarily on natural occurrences. The spin of the earth on its axis, offering us both darkness and light. The orbit around the sun providing us with seasons. We break these units into ever smaller increments. Hours. Minutes. Seconds. We quantify these periods into days, weeks, months, and we count their passing.

But what do we do with all this time? How often do we pay attention? Because life is both long, and short. It can change slowly over many years. Or irrevocably, in fragments of seconds. At times, it seems not to change at all.

Endings feel easier to identify than beginnings. But the truth we often hide from ourselves is that the edges are blurry. Endings and beginnings overlap and blend into each other. Most of life can’t be sectioned neatly into containers and labelled, even though I often wish it could. And once, believed I was an expert at it.

That too, was an untruth, like many things we often believe. If you undertake the process of self-examination and pick away at the surface of your thoughts to reveal the underpinning beliefs, the reality can often be ugly. Or at the very least, uncomfortable. I began that process in earnest when I started this blog in 2010. While my focus has shifted at various points, I will never be finished.

And life goes on.

Music Monday | The Deepest Sighs, The Frankest Shadows – Gang of Youths

Discussing the track, Gang of Youths frontman Dave Le’aupepe says:

“This song came about after I struggled with writer’s block for a year, barely managing to etch out more than a single verse of something awful the whole time. I was walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge one night, questioning my place in the world, contemplating giving up music and doing something more substantial. I sort of felt that I wasn’t doing anything that actually mattered. But I looked out at the skyline, all silvery and strange and in typical self-indulged frontman fashion, I began to revel in this moment of abandon, of self-hate. As a result, I think I stumbled across a kind life-affirming axiom; that in a cosmos potentially absent of meaning, and an existence devoid of objective value, I have an opportunity to invent my own meaning. We all do. We can ascribe meaning and value to our own lives and in a way, attribute great esteem and value to each other as a result.

All of us as adults, from youth to old age are drunk, stumbling around in the dark looking for a kebab. I’m scared and unsure, and I want to acknowledge this rather than repress it, or allow cynics to denigrate me because of it. So the song is about becoming more human, more aware and I guess in a way, more alive.”

It’s been just over twelve months since I posted last.

I haven’t been struggling with writer’s block but a change of jobs and new work commitments have eclipsed the time freed up by not travelling for two weeks out of every month. Those spare hours have been filled with study for my new role. As of the end of this week, however, my training period is complete. I’ve passed all the exams and start on shift next Monday. This will give me ample time to ponder over the meaning — or lack thereof — of life.

“Cause not everything means something, honey
So say the unsayable, say the most human of things
And if everything is temporary
I will bear the unbearable, terrible triteness of being.”

 

 

Bonus: the video has power lines 🙂

Hope

What breaks at daybreak?
Is it the darkness?
Is it the light?
Is it your heart?
Is it your fight?

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No night, no matter how dark
can withstand sunrise
just as no doubt, however deep
can withstand hope.

Homecoming

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…
“Closing Time” Semisonic

The thing about time travel is that it’s much slower than people think. You can only go second by second, minute by minute, day by day.  And worse, you can only travel forwards. Eventually, after hours, days, weeks and months, you find yourself years into the future. Continue reading