The saddest two words in the business of stories are, ‘The End.’ After those words there is no more story, no more adventures and the characters live on forever in our imaginations and in our hearts. A reader goes into morning until they pick up the next book, turn that first page and discovers a whole new world. But for the novelist of that story, letting go and moving on is much harder to do.
When you type in those words ‘The End’ and send the pages off to your editor/publisher/agent or whoever there is an overwhelming sense of exhaustion and relief, which is usually followed by an overwhelming bar tab and followed by that is an overwhelming and well earned hangover. But once the booze and pain fades that's when the darkness really sets in. You have spent months or years chipping away at your story in the early mornings and late nights, and after being lost in the wilderness of words for so long, you don't know how to do anything else.
A novel isn't slowly finished, one day you're writing a novel and the next day you're not. In a couple of key strokes it's over. Like breaking up with a long term partner, someone tells you it's for the best but at the time you're not so sure. At first comes the restlessness, the not knowing what to do with your self and the vague attempts to rejuvenate some half attempted hobby but nothing else compares to being at the typer and pounding out the words.
You sit at your computer, stare at your inbox and wonder why nobody has read the manuscript you sent twelve hours ago and emailed to tell you how brilliant it is. You send yourself an email from another account just to make sure the internet still works, and when your self addressed email arrives you slump in your chair, stare at the inbox, just waiting for it to change. Then ten minutes later you repeat the process. You have a cup of coffee, smoke some cigarettes and that's when the fear and panic sets in.
What if you novel is four hundred pages of rubbish?
What if they find out you don't know what the hell you are doing?
What if there are typos!
You pace the office. You plant out alternative careers, because you obviously just screwed this one up and you pour yourself a drink and sit down. You take a deep breath and have another drink and then an idea comes to you. A small kernel of an idea for a story. Not much. Could be a character, a scene or even just a line of dialogue. But it's an idea. The fear and panic fades, you sit down at the computer and start it all again.