I shared a version of this earlier on AvaSykes.com and wanted to bring it here too.
The good news is, I've finished another novel!The other news is, finishing it dropped me into a well of grief.
It's happened so regularly, this emotional plummet after achievement, a kind of post-completion depression, I decided to do a little research.
Turns out, it's a thing.
The ecstasyIt started out on Cloud 9. The first draft of a new work, a YA Paranormal, was complete, working title: The Cloud Forest. Here's the guff.
Fifteen-year-old Bri Arias survives a car accident but isn’t regaining consciousness. While her body lays comatose, her spirit roams the shaded world between waking and dreaming, life and death. In a parallel version, one where the accident never happened, Bri has the worst summer possible. Her archaeologist mother recruits Bri, and her year 10 Earth Science class, for a dig in the Andes Mountains. Touched by a shamanic spell, Bri becomes a ‘carrier’, a host to souls in transition, and most of them are not human. In one world, Bri is hospitalized and treated for schizophrenia; in another, she discovers a threat to the fabric of life-after-death. The only question is, can she wake up in time to save them both.
Then came the agonyThey say the Hero's Journey is a metaphor for life. The stages, twelve or so depending on who you read, correspond to the psychological steps taken every time we step out the door, start a project, job, relationship, degree, oil change, you name it. The process looks awesome on paper. A guide.
But it's not always that neat, especially at the end if the circle breaks and you spiral into the depths the 13th lost underworld.
Here's how it's supposed to go:
Yeah, sure. Good, on paper.
Step 12 - Return With The Elixir"This is the final stage of the Hero's journey in which [the hero] returns home to the Ordinary World .... [They] will have grown as a person, learned many things, faced many terrible dangers and even death but now look forward to the start of a new life. - Dan Bronzite
Before any looking forward to new wonders of life, there is the part where you hit the pavement, face first.
The agony after the ecstasy of creative accomplishment.
You write the book, paint the picture, score the film, edit the video, choreograph the dance ... It took you a week, or a month, or two years. You give it your last tweak, mission accomplished and on comes the fanfare! Triumphant Muses!
So good on paper.
And maybe it happens like that, for some, but for me it's grief, utter and complete.
Back in the "real world," elixir in hand, and I want to curl up in some dark hollow and die.
Not so uncommon to feel that waySure enough, it happens to other writers.
The strangest thing about finishing a book is the incredible sense of loss -- and yes, a bit of depression - when it's over. - Jungle Red Writers on Post Book Depression
... the creative person, who spends his or her time ruminating on thoughts is likely to suffer from major depression. From an evolutionary standpoint, depression, while seemingly a hindrance to a healthy and happy life, is really a balancing act that helps us focus on the areas where we need to improve most. - Creative SomethingIf you look deeper at the hero's journey, it is actually there, in the "refusal to return."
Step 12b Refusal to Return
The full round, the norm of the mono-myth, requires that the hero shall now begin the labor of bringing the runes of wisdom, the Golden Fleece, or his sleeping princess, back into the kingdom of humanity, where the boon may redound to the renewing of the community, the nation, the planet or the ten thousand worlds. But the responsibility has been frequently refused. Even Gautama Buddha, after his triumph, doubted whether the message of realization could be communicated, and saints are reported to have died while in the supernal ecstasy. Numerous indeed are the heroes fabled to have taken up residence forever in the blessed isle of the un-aging Goddess of Immortal Being. -The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph CampbellFor me, it's not so much a fall into darkness but divine homesickness, leaving the table of the gods behind. Leaving the world behind. It lasts a day or two, then slowly wears off, like a bad dream fading away.
Only then can I begin to think of the next step, the next work, and the process begins all over again.
How about you?
Has anyone else felt this way after a creative project is completed? A goal reached? I'd love to hear about it.
Kim Falconer's latest release is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. Find this novel in a store near you.
You can also learn more about Kim at AvaSykes.com, the 11th House Blog, and on FaceBook and Twitter and the new GoodVibeAstrology.com.