My friend Sheila recently finished writing a kick-ass, dark urban nightmare story called Flowertown. During the writing process, it called to her, drew her away from everything else on the table, and called to her 24/7. When she finished, there was a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. And, like most writers who finish writing a book, she took some time off to pay attention to the other stuff in her life. Like cleaning (just kidding!).
After some time, she decided to write a new story. Getting it started has not been easy, and I can relate. I started writing Little Rooms within a few weeks of completing SWELL, and although I was itching to go, I soon found myself feeling like an empty writer.
What the hell?
Empty is as empty does, and when you’ve given all your blood, sweat, tears (and liver over to drinking cause that is usually what pulls us writer folk through), there is nothing left. Even the most brilliant concept and character development cannot stand without legs. Empty writers have no legs, and if they do, they are wobbly. Like running a marathon, we are spent and it takes time to heal and recover.
I’d like to think we are capable of cranking out the hits like dime store novels, but we are not. Writing is an emotional journey, not unlike a relationship. Our friends are in our minds and on the pages in front of us, and we are linked by the gold cord that pulls us through the story. When we finish our stories, it is not unlike moving away from your best friend, or breaking up with your boyfriend. It hurts. It takes a long time to get over them and move on.
With this in mind, you could say starting a new story so soon after completing the last one is akin to the rebound boyfriend. The filler in the sandwich. Something to occupy time before Mr. Hot Story comes along. He will, but maybe not right now. Don’t be ashamed if you’re an Empty Writer. It just means you’re getting your refill later rather than sooner!