nonfiction books · writing

The End

Finishing a project is a sweet-bitter thing. Yes, the relief is great. But also–you miss it.

I miss reading Shakespeare. Of course, I can still read him, I know that, but there’s less of a hard motivation. It’s like clicking well with one person at a party and then wandering off to talk to other people. You like talking to other people, but you miss that one very clicky person.

(Full disclosure: I have never really had this experience at any party, because I hate crowds and if I find a person I can talk to I usually stick to that person long past the awkward stage and it’s all very weird and uncomfortable.)

So yes, I’m thrilled to be reading the books (The Girl in the Red Coat, The Turner House) that have languished on my bedside bookshelf for months, but also, I miss him.

And I felt a bit chokey when I deleted about 20 tabs from my browser, all related to my book. Poof. And immediately I worried that I’d never be able to find that page, ever again. And someday I might need it.

And–I no longer have the perfect excuse for spending seven hours every Sunday planted at my kitchen table, writing. And I have to ask myself: Why do I need an excuse to spend seven hours planted at my kitchen table writing? Why is that perfectly okay to do when I’m getting paid for it, but not when the writing project is a seed potato that might never grow into a veggie-bearing plant?

This question has haunted me since 2002. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer.

It’s school vacation week, so last week was the perfect time to finish a big project. I’m home today and tomorrow with the boys and we are going to swim, eat in parks, go to movies, sweep the floors, and do a whole bunch of laundry. And I will do it all without page counts running teasingly through my mind. I will be as available as I ever am for their questions and knock-knock jokes. I will ask the oldest what’s going on in his endless civilization building game and actually listen to the answer. Well, mostly.

But I’ll still be looking for evidence of Shakespeare everywhere on our local travels, because what I’ve learned from writing this book is that we are collectively haunted, in a good way, by a brilliant mind that just can’t quit.

And maybe I’ll sneak in an hour or two to work on my potato.

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