End of Novel Syndrome: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!
Hi everyone! Yes, it’s true. I’m still here. *Blinks wide-eyed and a bit dazed* Some of you already know why I’ve been off the radar for a while, and for those of you who don’t, a quick look around at the undone ironing, the multiple coffee cups, the floor that hasn’t seen a hoover in … well never mind, and you would be able to accurately diagnose my disease. Yup! I’ve been suffering from End of Novel Syndrome. I’m sure every writer reading this is nodding in empathy.
End of Novel Syndrome is that overpowering neurosis that hits a author somewhere around the last fifteen thousand words of writing a novel, in those last few critical weeks when the end is oh so close but so far away. A novelist gets a bit crazy around that time, Though my husband insists that, for me, ENS begins six months before and ends six months after, I’m sure he’s exaggerating just a little.
The symptoms of ENS are fairly easy to identify. A writer will suddenly become scarce on their usual social media haunts. Their responses to attempts at communications will be terse, distracted and often nothing more than a series of grunts, animal noises, and nods or head shakes, which of course don’t translate very well over gmail.
Another symptom indicative of ENS is a sudden change in eating and drinking habits. For me, my meals suddenly consist of anything I can eat with one hand and keep working laced with LOTS of extra coffee and tea.
Memory usually goes right out the door, at least memory that involves anything beyond what’s going on with the plot and characters in those last crucial chapters of the novel. I know it’s gross and disgusting, and if people look at me askance, well, I’ll deny it, but sometimes that involves actually forgetting things like bathing. For some writers it involves forgetting to eat, but that has never been my problem, though forgetting to sleep happens. And even when it doesn’t it’s nearly impossible to get a decent night’s sleep with my characters running rough shod through my head and doing the Hokey Pokey in my dreams. Which results in another indicative symptom of ENS – red rimmed eyes sporting lovely dark circles beneath. Oh yes, I have the look down in spades. Not a good fashion statement.
All housework and cooking is forgotten, all social events cancelled, and any time taken away from those last elusive chapters is given grudgingly and with much grumping. And then there are the physical symptoms; stomach knots, neck cricks, back aches from sitting too long in one position, eye strain, caffeine jitters and the queen of them all, interrupted sleep. Symptoms vary from author to author.
I drink less alcohol when I’m suffering from ENS because I’m afraid it’ll take away my edge. But there’s always a special bottle of wine waiting for the celebration when I come out on the other side.
And coming out on the other side is why I do it. There’s something that still seems a bit magical to me that I can take a seed of an idea and shape it and mull it about and, after some blood sweat tears and other stressful things that may or may not involve body fluids, that seed actually evolves into a novel, and a novel I’m proud to have my name on.
Kay Jaybee and I were discussing ENO a few days ago and I actually stole her idea to do a post about it, so thanks Kay! At the time I was in the end stretch of Grace Marshall’s third novel of the Executive Decisions trilogy The Exhibition, and I’ll have to admit, Stacie and Harris were having me for lunch on a regular basis. Fortunately for my poor husband, he was called away on business to South Africa that final week of the struggle with The Exhibition. (Wise advice to significant others of writers in the throes of ENS; run away if you can! Farther is better. Did I forget to mention the one symptom of ENS that endemic – Mega-Bitch-Moods!)
Hubby came home to Ms Sweetness and Light with the novel out the door to Xcite and happy dancing in full swing. However he remains cautious. He knows, as any significant other of a writer knows, that the only thing worse than End of Novel Syndrome, is what happens when the novel the author has lived with for months and months is suddenly out the door –Empty Nest Syndrome! Hubs lucked out this time, I’m already on to the next novel.
Successful NYC gallery owner, Stacie Emerson, is ex-fiancée to one Thorne brother and ex-wife to the other. Though the three have made peace, Ellison Thorne’s friend, wildlife photographer, Harris Walker, still doesn’t like her. When Stacie convinces Harris to exhibit his work for the opening of her new gallery she never intended to include him in her other more hazardous plans. But when those plans draw the attention of dangerous business tycoon, Terrance Jamison, Harris comes to her aid. In the shadow of a threat only Stacie understands, can she dare let Harris into her life and make room for love?