What to Do When You've Finished a Book?

I recently "finished" writing a young adult fantasy novel. I put the word "finished" in quotes because a) books tend to be abandoned more than they are ever finished, and b) it's only finished in that I typed the words "THE END," banged my head against the keyboard a few more times for good measure, and decided that it was done enough to start querying agents.

(No, this is not a post about how I signed with my fabulous agent. More on that at a later date, when I come down off of my JEEZLOUISETHISISREALLYHAPPENING high.)

What this is, is a post about what happens when you finish writing a book. Over a month ago I wrapped up my book and sent it off into the world in a state of mingled exhaustion and hope, sat back, and realized that I had entered unknown territory. Because the truth is that this was the first time I hadn't been actively working on a book since sometime in 2010.

2010! Five years! Five years with the nose to the figurative grindstone, always feeling like I was supposed to be working. (Even if I was, in fact, rewatching Gilmore Girls on Netflix, I ALWAYS felt guilty about not writing!) So when I finally looked up and saw that the sky was, indeed, blue, I spent several days just wandering around in a haze before I figured out that I had an amazing opportunity to rest, recharge, and ENJOY LIFE before tying myself down again to another big project.

So - what do you do when you have some time off? LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU WANT. I...watched a LOT of television: The West Wing, Gilmore Girls, Friends. I'd never seen Friends before it popped up on Netflix. Sometimes I really like it. Other times (most of the time) I want to stab Ross through the eye with an icicle.

Portrait of the artist with her dumplings. This is to prove that I still exist. And that I have firsthand experience with the dumplings of Australia. Photo credit: Martin Laskowski

Portrait of the artist with her dumplings. This is to prove that I still exist. And that I have firsthand experience with the dumplings of Australia. Photo credit: Martin Laskowski

And read a lot of books, including Castle in the Air and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (continuing my Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling rereads, respectively), N. K. Jemisin's The Inheritance Trilogy, and my good friend Mackenzi Lee's debut novel, This Monstrous Thing, among others. (I have grand hopes of sneaking in a few more before Monday.)

And ate a lot of food! Australia has really really good Italian hot chocolate, as well as some of the best potstickers I have ever had in a tiny cash-only restaurant in Glen Waverley. (Although apparently people don't use the word "potstickers" over here - they're DUMPLINGS!) Seriously, I will miss these dumplings a LOT when I'm gone.

And DIDN'T THINK ABOUT WRITING AT ALL beyond some daydreamy brainstorming sessions on what to write next. Don't let the calm exterior fool you - even when I'm not writing, I've got IDEAS. (It's been really nice just playing around with ideas!)

I'm getting ready to dive back into revisions next week, but I feel so much better for having NOT immediately turned around and started the next book (even though that would have been a welcome distraction from the stress of checking my email hundreds of times a day, just in case).

So that's me, dear readers. Are you in the middle of a big project right now? How are you planning to unwind when you're done? And what do you do when you need a break from writing?