The end ... or just the end of a book?

Completing a book is a strange affair. Now, after writing my eight book (more, if I count the unpublished reams I have written!!), a pattern is emerging…

Phase 1: The Great Sense of Achievement. I like to polish the tarnished text and iron out the plot wobbles as I go along, so generally, by the time my book is done, I am pretty chuffed with what I have written. I don’t know if anyone else will be happy with what I have written, but at that stage, I really don’t care! I’ve had a great time living in the fantasy world of my book and playing with words.

Phase 2: The Niggles. What now? What do I do each morning if I am not going to sit at my desk and slip straight back into my story, frolic with my characters and chuckle at my own puns? I have to keep writing, creating, practising, but I have just closed the door to my latest world.

Phase 3: Keeping Calm. I’m kind to myself ... say it’s okay to take a breather ... let my brain rest.  I find other fascinating things to do with my time. I crochet feral-looking owls and ridiculously elaborate tea cosies.  I bake chocolate cakes the size of army tanks. I prune my garden to within an inch of its life (or beyond ... Whoopsy daisy!). I take my dog Olive for so many walks that she starts to sigh and roll her eyes when I rattle the leash. I catch up on reading - novels, newspapers, magazines, books about writing, books about reading magazines when you should be writing … It’s all fun, but it’s not enough.

Phase 4: Panic. The Niggles from Phase 2 abandon their stealth and start belting me over the head with a frying pan. I should be writing!!! I need to start a new book. I’m not happy unless I am lost in a story for a good part of each day. If anyone asks how my writing is going, I dive into the nearest corner, curl up into a ball and sob. I start planning eleven different plots on six hundred different bits of paper and my desk looks like a recycling centre on a windy day (but messier). Will I ever be able to write another book? How on earth did I manage the last one? HELP!!!!!

Phase 5: The Phew Phase: One of the eleven plots sticks in my mind. I keep thinking of this new world, the characters, the adventures, the words, words, words. I think about it all so much that I have to write it down and soon I am off and running through another imaginary land where I can get lost at 10 am every morning. I am happy again! Joyful! Ecstatic! Fulfilled!

At the moment, I am blundering between Phase 3 and 4. My study is a mess of papers, old exercise books and sticky notes. The dog has been exercised to the fitness level of an Olympic  marathon runner. I’m breaking out in a cold sweat right now as I type this. Will I ever be able to write another book??? Could the last book I wrote really be my - gulp - last???

I need to take three deep breaths and console myself with the fact that I have plenty of chocolate cake in the pantry and a parliament of crocheted owls to keep me company in my despair.