Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The End

I can remember the last class of my last quarter in grad school. I was done. The major occupation of my previous eighteen years was…over. I had reached the finish line.

And while there was a little seed of excitement, mostly I was scared and more than a little disoriented. What was I going to do without assignments and deadlines? The school calendar had defined my days and now the rest of life was here. I was lucky to have a job, a new marriage, significant friendships, but if I looked in the mirror, who I would see now? I wasn’t quite sure. Whoever gazed back at me wouldn’t have my old familiar identity, student.


I was thinking about that last week when I wrote “the end” on a story I’d been working on for the last year. There was that sprint that comes right before the finish, and then I was on the other side of the manuscript wondering what life would be like without my two protagonists waking me up every morning. I was excited, but once again more than a little disoriented. And lonely? How can I miss imaginary people? Oh, sure there will be edits and copy edits, but it won’t be the same, finishing never is. 

I planned to take a few days off, relax, after all, I’d worked hard. Maybe even celebrate. But, by the second day, I was edgy. So I asked Sci-Fi guy who had also just completed a manuscript what he did to celebrate. He looked at me sheepishly. “I gave blood,” he said. “It seemed fitting. And that night we had a bar-b-que. But we probably would have had the bar-b-que anyway.”  So maybe I’m not the only one who isn’t good at celebrating.

So here’s what I want to know. When you accomplish a major goal, how do you celebrate? How do you mark the day? I have to confess that the very next morning I was back at my computer, striking up a conversation with a few new imaginary friends.


Jordan Dane said...

Boy, I can relate to this, Maureen. Great post. Whenever I get toward the end, I procrastinate. I see it coming, know it will happen, expect it, but it ALWAYS happens with my eyes wide open. It's a love hate feeling, to let go of a world and characters I love.

But you really must find a way to celebrate your accomplishment. I usually treat myself with an outing with friends and family. A trip. A dinner. Or maybe something fun with a few good author friends. They really can appreciate what THE END means.

Maureen McQuerry said...

I agree that celebrating with other writing friends helps! They get that mixed bag of emotions. Non writers, even the closest friends, expect excitement and relief. Those emotions are there, but there's that strange sense of dislocation too.

Sechin Tower said...

Sometimes my mind is already ramping up on the next project, but usually I just feel a bit lost for a few days. Maybe I need some kind of ceremony to move on, at least just to empty the mind and get ready to fill it back up again.

Thanks for the post-- now I know I'm not the only one who feels this way!

Unknown said...

Does it mean that writers are all the same? I'm like you, getting onto other projects the second I finish one...

AFTER my celebratory gin n' tonic, though:)

Maureen McQuerry said...

I do think celebration rituals help. Even celebrating the little steps along the way makes me feel like I'm moving forward.