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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Envying the Ghosts of Oakwood Cemetery

Every night, I walk through the Oakwood Cemetery in Falls Church on my way to the Metrorail station.

I finished a novel last summer and it is now winter and I am having trouble selling it.

It is frequently pitch black as I walk through the cemetery. Many of the dead were buried over two hundred years ago. I talk to the ghosts. I envy them. They don't face false expectations of a "great" novel that is going nowhere. They haven't created children, brilliant, kind, loving children characters who will never live in readers' minds.

Koheleth says that those who have never been born are the luckiest. That should have been me. The pain of having written a novel, no longer touching my characters and watching them change, making them grow, is too intense.

The cemetery is peaceful. Those under the ground don't feel such pain. Can I kill myself and join them? No. I have obligations to my son, my wife, and my religion. It would be unfair to them. But why can't I have a quick heart attack? Then my wife and son would get my insurance, and face no stigma. There must be people in this cemetery who died that way. Why can't I? And soon?

Thirty-four years ago, finishing the novella that I sold fairly quickly after completing it put me into the worst depression of my life, until my mother's death. My creative writing professor, my college's writer-in-residence, said that post-novel-depression is very common and very painful. He was right. That depression lasted for about four months.

This time around, with a much bigger novel that I put twelve years of my life into, it is much worse. It has been more than half a year since I finished it, and I am just as depressed as ever. This might be even worse than losing my mother.

So, my poor ghosts, you have more life in you than my characters do. At least I can read your names on your grave stones. You have less pain than I have. So, maybe I will join you soon. I hope so.

I no longer work near Oakwood Cemetery. My attitude is now much improved, but post-novel-depression is every bit as hard as I describe it here.


Larry Czaplyski said...

Don't be so sad. You accomplished your task. More than many folks do.

Soon or later, you'll find a market.

Words1inger said...

Thanks, Larry. The point of this blog entry was not to say I'm that depressed today. Rather, it was to explain just how powerful post-novel depression is. And I did feel that way for many months since finishing the first draft of this novel. I don't feel that way anymore.

Airlie Maria Heung said...

It is a big accomplishment to have finished it in the first place! Im still on my first but i absolutely get what you mean when you feel like you want to die but have obligations. Hang in there my friend! There will come a day!