When my youngest son first started taking AR tests (don’t get me started) in early elementary school, he would cross his storylines if he had started a new book before testing on the old one. His story worlds would collide.
This happens to me when I’m writing. It’s not easy to be in one phase of a work (let’s say final, final revision hypothetically) and first draft on another. This is especially true if each work is in the same genre.
There are two reasons I can figure out for this challenge. One is that when I have worked on something forever, I know it inside and out. The sentences have been planted, watered, cared for, harvested, reseeded. With a first draft, on the other hand, the seeds are barely buried–more like just tossed in the wind. They may or may not stay. Upon second read, they’re painful, while looking deceptively brilliant until the always-humbling monthly critique session. To merge those two worlds–the polished and the raw–slaps that writing ego upside the head.
The second reason, though, is the feeling you get when someone you’re close to leaves–either town or the planet. They leave a void that sits empty for a time.
On a lesser level (hopefully), is the feeling you get at the end of that Netflix series when only two episodes of your favorite series is left and you’ve been binge watching for months. You feel the anxiety building. What will you do without Jack Bauer going rogue each night?
Our new coping mechanism: the overlap. The therapists may argue we need to feel the void, but I like this better. Before you run out of episodes, start a new one. Before you hit the end of the book you’re reading (unless you’re in 4th grade and confuse your storylines), start a new one. Before you hit the end of the book you’re writing, start a new one.
Hair of the dog.