Monday, January 25, 2010

The Conundrums of releasing a novel

Many authors have said releasing a novel is like giving birth, with both pain and excitement. However, I believe it's even more, it's like giving birth, sending your child off to kindergarten and shipping your child off to college all at the same time. At the same time the novel is given birth it's cast out into the wide world, to stand alone on its own merit.

A frightening thing. I couldn't quite understand why I've been in a funk for the past few days. It felt familiar but not recently so. And then I recalled the feeling. I've had it before. It occured each time I released an issue of my goth literay mag, The Howling, It did get easier over the 7 years and 15 issues of the mag; went from a miasma of two weeks to a recognized down time for two days. For lots of different reasons: the project is finished, the soulmade project is out in the world to be judged, and the new project hasn't yet taken hold.
Since Shaman Circus went to the printers, I've fiddled with various projects and ideas, from whether to edit the second Shaman novel or to focus on my third novel, Fireworks, etc. I've written and edited a few stories, started a few more, submitted a batch but still this haunting feeling of being out of place lingers.
I may not suss out all the reasons for a while. It's not really white page syndrome or writer's block, it's more like I'm in a holding pattern, holding my breath, waiting to see what happens and until it does, not sure what next step to take or what to do. It's an eerie, disturbing psychological limbo. On one hand, inside I'm jumping up and down with joy to see my first novel published, but on the other, there's fear and a sense that what if I can't ever finalize another?
I don't know if other writers have experienced this. As the contemporary Thomas Moore recommends in his Care of the Soul series, its better to go into the dark places and see what secrets they have to tell you, than to deny they're there. Maybe this is postpartum depression and separation anxiety all at the same time. I don't know.
These days I teeter on a tightrope of words. Below me the carnival explodes in glorious color, freaks and frenzy, jangly music and garish trellises of light. The words want to run away with the carnies. I must grasp these scattering syllables with my toes or herd them to my aid, for without them I'll fall.

Perhaps to cheer myself up and not feel so isolated, I'll collect quotes from other writers on what its like to see a first novel published.


  1. It was exciting, and yet... anti-climatic at the same time. That make sense?
    I equate it to sending one's naked soul out into the world...

  2. For me, it's like I have suddenly lost my goal or momentum. I know I should have realized it would happen and planned something to start on rather than thinking I would relax, clean house or take a break, still takes me a while to get back into another project.

    Straight From Hel

  3. I've not written a novel yet. My head is full of ideas that I am too terrified to put in extended format. When I write stories I sort of become the characters and the story becomes real. I guess that could be called schizophrenia by some. LOL, some day when I am ready...hats off to you for finishing!

  4. I don't think its schiophrenia when the characters become real at all. In Shaman Circus, one of the characters, Jacob La Querre, a supporting character, stole the stage and eventually hijacked the novel out from under the protagonist. Jacob was real - telling me when he needed to get back in the limelight because he had something to say or do.
    At some point a character in one of your short stories may demand a novel. When that happens, I find a writers group is the best tool to help keep your runaway characters in line so the other characters get to come out and play.


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