I finished the first draft of the new book today. From start to finish it took 51 days to finish the first draft of a 95,000 word book. That was pretty much a record for me. The book is in pretty good shape all in all, with just a few continuity issues that always happen in a book. What seemed like a good idea in Chapter 1 changes by Chapter 35.
I’m tired as I always am when I finish an intense book like this one. I’m also emotionally drained for a few reasons.
I started writing the book the Monday following Flash’s death as a way to cope. I hadn’t been able to write during the six weeks before that, but I pushed myself on that day. I didn’t make my quota, but I came back the next morning and the next and the next and so on for 51 days.
My schedule with Flash for the past seven years was that the five hours or so in the morning were writing hours. Flash always went to his spot at the front door until about Noon when he came to remind me that it was time for lettuce, play, outside, and hey, a treat. So the writing hours were easy for me. I just kept writing most of the day. After all, I had three extra hours. When I cried, it was pretty much after those hours. Although there were some occasions when I took a sob break, such as when the school bus stopped in front of the house and Flash wasn’t there to announce it.
When I finished a book Flash and I always celebrated. We did a dance. We played. He got a full body massage. He got a cookie. We went somewhere special. Today was the hardest day I’ve had since his death. It’s been almost two months since he died and it was the end of a book, a double whammy I expected. However, I hadn’t anticipated how much of a 2 x 4 it would be and how much of the day would be spent in tears.
Every act, every new behavior layered on top of a previous habit makes a loss a little easier to bear. That’s what I keep telling myself.
I received the canvases of his photos – after they were lost in Houston, of all places. I can’t hang them yet. I put one of them on the long ottoman/storage unit in my office but every time I came in here I wanted to cry. Not all that conducive to productive work, so I put it back in its crate for when I’m ready.
I’ve never gone through anything like this before, which makes me wonder if it isn’t a combination of all the other losses I’ve experienced all glommed together. Or maybe it’s just that Flash meant so much to me that I’m still grieving and will for a little while.
So, today is both a day of celebration and one of sorrow. Again, a first for me.
EDITED TO ADD:
I found this great pdf – Seven Principles of Grief by J. Shep Jeffries. I think it’s brilliant simply because it makes sense for me.