I hadn't realized what a weight getting that book done was on my shoulders. Then I sent it to my agent and promptly almost collapsed. I spent the rest of the day lying on the sofa and watching TV. First I had to catch up on the House episode I'd taped, then there was the Olympic Ice show on USA, followed by a whole night of figure skating. I think I could have slept until noon today if I'd let myself. I had a task to do for my one lingering bit of "day job," and now I'm sorely tempted to go spend the rest of the day on the sofa watching movies or reading. It doesn't help that it's a gray, nasty day. I'm even tempted to skip choir practice because of the gloominess. It's very foggy, and it doesn't seem to be clearing up much as the day progresses.
I'm not entirely sure why finishing a book is so draining. It doesn't exactly look like hard work. In my case, I only spend a few hours of a day actually working on the book. But I think the issue is that it's so all-consuming. Even when I'm not working on the book, there's a part of my brain that's still tinkering with it. You have to dig into your own emotions to put them on the page, and that leaves you vulnerable the rest of the time. It's like I can't completely let it go until it's truly done and out of my hands (for the time being), so I get no "rest" from it. There may only be a few (or less) hours spent physically typing on the keyboard, but it's essentially a 24/7 endeavor. It doesn't help that I had my own emotional upheavals going on in the midst of this, and I didn't realize until I was done just how much of it was me being off-kilter instead of it having to do with the book.
I can't collapse much, though. I have a lot to get done -- Rita books to finish judging (one more!), promo work to do, tons of reader e-mails to answer. I had this sense of not wanting to deal with the reader e-mails while I was writing, but now I know why. I didn't really want my current work to be influenced by reader mail. I was kind of afraid that if I read something about someone's favorite character, I'd feel pressured to go play up that character's role, for instance. I might not have done it consciously, but my subconscious tends to like to make everyone happy, and that would have driven me nuts. If you've written to me since November or so, I'll probably reply in the next week. I also desperately need to clean my house, starting with my office. It's verging on looking like the homes of those people they have on Oprah and shows like that who have deep-seated psychological issues where they use clutter as a security blanket and they have to be treated professionally before they can clear out their homes. I don't think I have any serious psychological problems, unless laziness counts.
But now, as much as I feel all the "need to do" guilt, I think I'm going to give myself a break to take a lazy, slothful day or two.