When putting the finishing touches to a novel, I experience a brief moment of euphoria, followed by an alarming feeling of emptiness. This occurred again recently, as I finished the second draft of my most recent novel, The Deviant Prophet.
I call this feeling post book blues, and I expect the feeling applies to all artists, not just writers. Having put your heart and soul into a project, having undergone a lengthy mental journey with imaginary characters, one suddenly has to say goodbye to these characters. The problem is, by then I have often fallen in love with them, and don’t want to say goodbye.
There is, however, a cure: go onto the next project as soon as possible. I normally have my next three novels lined up in any case, but I appreciate some writers do not operate that way. I have a great deal of sympathy for anyone in such a predicament. Mercifully, I don’t typically have that problem. Otherwise, I think might sink into despair. Writing can be so addictive. Writing is like heroin.
Ultimately, if experiencing post book blues, I have to ask the question, why do I write? In my case, it is to silence the voices in my head by putting them on paper. Furthermore, it is because I have a pathological need to entertain. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing your story has brought pleasure to the reader (or even displeasure, because if so you have nevertheless got under the skin of the reader).
In such cases, a book can be like a gift that keeps on giving. That is the author’s greatest reward.