What Next?

Think of all the time and effort that goes into writing a novel. Then think about this reaction when you get to the end: “So what?”

Or this: “What next?”

So what? What next? That can be what it feels like to finish writing a novel.

I guess there was the one time I finished writing for my 8-year-old and felt the excitement of getting to read that with him. He loved it, which is something. But wouldn’t he? Aren’t I one of the two people who taught him to love books in the first place? And so wouldn’t he naturally take to a narrative I’d written just for him?

(Plus, there were his brother’s illustrations, one of a boy falling out of a tree, another of Barksley the Silent Hound and his poo.)

But otherwise: So what. What next.

Sure, there are more ways to feel after finishing a book. You can feel satisfaction, like after eating a really big hamburger. Pride, like after finishing a ridiculous sports competition — Ironman, say, or Marathon. There’s an element of wonder, like after finishing a liter of Scotch with just one other buddy.

Sure, these reactions apply.

But when reality sets in, when winter comes and the furnace isn’t tuned; when your congresswoman (Comstock, R-VA) votes to rip you off and hand the money to rich people; when those in positions of authority are revealed to be pervs and predators; when smog fills the air and plastic fills the sea bullets fill the bodies of innocent people for no reason at all…

…and you’ve been busy writing a novel?

So what.

What next.

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