Is there such a thing as ‘Post Novel Depression’, and is it anything like or related to ‘Post Natal Depression’? You can be assured that I have suffered the former a number of times, though I can’t say that I have fallen ill to the latter.
Over some years, I have given birth to both real babies and then novel babies. While I can’t specifically recall anything near to what would be diagnosed as Post Natal Depression with any of my REAL babies, after bringing many of my novel babies into the world, I have succumbed to some pretty obvious Post Novel Depression symptoms.
The only cures I have really found to the seeming syndrome of Post Novel Depression are: starting the next novel, doing a painting, designing and sewing a new outfit, redecorating a room, or throwing myself into any number of creative projects.
Yes, there is Post Creativity Depression – the sense of loss or ending, when once you’ve completed something creative; but the down-ness I’ve experienced after completing any number of artistic projects isn’t quite the same nor as pronounced as when I’ve finished up a novel and sent it out into the world. Why is this so?
Maybe part of this creative letdown and more particularly the post novel letdown phenomenon, is that a novel can easily take at least nine months to absolutely complete. From inception to completion, from creative sparks to first draft through rewrites, a novel takes a wee while to get to ‘the end’.
Added to that lengthy creative and non-creative venture, the similarity to actual birth is that there is usually at least one baby in your story, and quite often twins, triplets or more in multiples of your very own offspring.
A storyteller gives birth to and raises her or his fictional children up to a point. Then once a writer has given life to characters in a world of his or her choosing, raised them as well as possible, and brought them to their happy or other ending, they are finally released to find their own ways in the world.
These characters are born again in a way. Born into their adulthood. They have to grow up and get out there to make their own ways in an oft unfriendly world. Any given reader is out there to receive or reject them.
That fact of sending your babies out there into the cruel world, in and of itself is a frightening and perhaps depressing prospect. Even the best classic stories have been rejected by some. Sometimes many. What true chance do your own babies have?
Perhaps that is one crux or cause of Post Novel Depression. When you allow your characters out into an unforgiving world, you worry for them. And you might worry how your novel children will reflect on you. The critics, small or large, somebodies or nobodies; are only too sadistically willing to cleverly crucify your babies.
Thus, you must turn away. Perhaps not look. Not too much. There is nothing much that you can do for your babies now that they are grown and gone (except for marketing); but to hope and/or pray that they will find kind strangers in the storms of life.
So, once you finish one novel, start your next. Start thinking about it, jot down notes, dabble at new prose, point your creative focus towards conceiving new character babies and their stories. Writing your next novel is the only known true cure to Post Novel Depression.