Posting a Parting

Posting a Parting

Today is the day I've had to let go. It's not easy because for the next few weeks I'll be second-guessing myself. Does everything make sense? Did I miss a great story opportunity? Could I squeeze in one more revision?

Yes, the manuscript for my new mystery,
A Specter of Justice, has received the Seal of Approval from my editor at Poisoned Pen Press and gone to final copy editing.

Postpartum? I wouldn't trivialize real postpartum with my little anxieties, but I'll argue there are similarities. I've lived with and developed this new story for almost a year. Suddenly, I have to stop thinking about it in terms of what it will be and accept what it is. And what it is will be determined by each individual reader who either connects with it or doesn't. It's out of my hands and into their hands (or ears in the audio version) and I can't be there to defend my "child" if they don't like what I've created.

After fifteen books, one would think I'd be over this feeling by now. I'm not. So, it must be caused more by the void of the moment than the loss of the particular manuscript now with my publisher. This form of postpartum isn't exclusive with writers, but anyone who has lived and breathed a major project.

The process of creation lies at the heart of the matter. That little voice in your head asks, "What's next?" and it won't stop asking until the process begins again – the subconscious demanding to have its say, its new task, its creative expression.

I read an interview with Lee Child in which he says he immediately starts writing a new Jack Reacher novel as soon as he finishes his current one. No down time, no recharging of batteries. He wants to carry the rhythm and energy culminating in one book into the beginning of the next.

That's a great approach, but I'm not wired that way. Some transition has to take place as I say goodbye to one set of characters and their actions. I believe that transition might be the anxiety itself, the psychological angst that tunes your ears and eyes to story possibilities in what you hear, you see, and you read.

If that's the case, then what I label as writer's postpartum is really writer's propellent – the fuel that drives one to seek out the next project, the next story. If there comes a time when I'm not anxious, then that's the time of the real parting. It's the Muses telling me, "Mark, It was fun, but you're done."