I thought I finished STARWIND two Mondays ago. I actually finished it three days after that. Either way, the first draft is done, and I won't pick it up again and start editing until at least the 19th, possibly until the month's end.
So... now what?
The obvious answer is, of course, work on other stuff. And believe me, I planned to. I thought I'd be able to get right back to all the other plots I'd been working on before I started STARWIND. Hell, I even said that I'd take a short break before getting back to work.
It's a good thing I don't have any problems with admitting I'm wrong, because ye gods, was I wholly mistaken on this one. I've spent most of my time since finishing the book not working on anything, and hardly able to add more than a few bits here or there when I do. And it feels very strange.
When I was writing the book, I joked that I didn't have much to say or was having trouble saying things because I was using up all of my words on the book. I really should know better than to make jokes like that, y'know? Because that's what it's felt like over the past week and a half - like when I sit down, I'm trying to run on empty. Like I don't yet have my words back. I've managed to add a few sentences to something, based on stuff I came up with at work, but that's it.
I don't get this, because I genuinely do want to get back to these things. There's a six-page rough plot in there somewhere that came from me blending three other ideas together, two half-baked chunks of three pages' worth of ideas that started off as the same story but split from each other in some bizarre sort of textual mitosis, and a short series of early ideas that might be me coming up with how to make something work I've wanted to for years.
And, full disclosure: I'm kind of scared to open any of them, as I'm worried that I'll look at them and think they're crap. Even thinking about them now, I'm worried that two of them have magic systems that are too similar. Why I'm worried about that, I don't know, as odds are good I'll only ever write one of them and odds are great very few people, if any, will ever see it, but...
You get the idea. This is my great insecurity for the month, having almost no drive to work on stuff and worried that I'm going to hate it if I do. I know there's only one way to deal with it: open up the files and see what's there.
Yet most nights, assuming I even open my word processor, I just stare at the "Open" file box, and don't actually bring anything up.
I know this is something that will pass with time. I'll give my brain and soul a little more rest and get back to everything when I'm ready. And when I do open those files again, I'll probably like what I see. It's just hard to convince myself of that right now.
Maybe I just need to plan for longer recovery times after finishing a book.