I know that I’ve written about this ad nauseum, and won’t stop mentioning it for a while, but I published my first book last week. It’s not the greatest book in the world, it’s not even in the top ten, but it’s my book, filled with words that I put together in sequence, and my story. Do I want it to sell? Sure. But I’m not foolish enough to think that it’s going to go on to sell millions of copies and help pay off my student loans.
However, the writing and publishing of a book is an accomplishment that I’m quite proud of. And I should be. I spent hours writing, rewriting, proofreading, editing, writing some more, and finally formatting it, so yeah, I’m proud of myself for getting it done. It feels nice.
But something happened after I submitted it to publish.
I was depressed.
I couldn’t figure out why. My project was complete. It was out in the world, ready to be consumed by anyone who was interested. I could say that not only was I a writer, I was a published writer.
So why would I feel depressed?
I’ve made my mental health issues no secret over the years. The gravity of the abyss pulling me down, making me feel as though I were of no value to the world is all too familiar. But this was different. I just felt…empty.
It took a few days of naval gazing to come to a conclusion. I was feeling something similar to post-partum depression. I had spent years from concept to publishing on this particular piece of work. It wasn’t the only thing that I worked on during that time, but it was the first thing that I completed. And like a mother who has given birth to a child, I was feeling a similar sadness now that what was inside of me was no longer there.
This is not to downplay post-partum depression. A book is not a child. But it’s the closest I can come to a metaphor for how I was feeling. I was sad. My purpose was fulfilled, and I had nothing else to offer.
The choice was pretty clear - I could either spend the next week, or month, or six months, sad and rudderless. But the longer I spent in that state of mind, the less likely I would be to start my next project. There may not even be a next project.
So the answer is simple - get back on the horse, and get back on it fast. So, while I will market my current book to the best of my limited ability, I will be hard at work on my next project. And once I sat down to write once again, I felt the cloud of sadness begin to dissipate. Only the bright sunlight of creativity can chase away the clouds of sadness, so I choose to create. It’s the only thing I know to do.