the truth

I’m in a funk. A bluesy, what-is-my-problem, watching Vampire Diaries (Don’t judge. The storytelling and hotness are a great distraction) reruns funk. One evening over wine and a lot of food (as these things go) a good friend told me, “It’s completely normal to feel depressed after finishing a book.” And the guilt that had begun to build a home on my shoulders sighed. When my friend finished her thesis a professor gave her that insight and as she imparted it, I felt relieved, an answer to my emptiness. I love pinpointing problems. It’s almost as good as my fall TV shows returning. Holla Fringe and Parks & Rec!

The book is all I’ve been doing for 2 years. Off and on. On and off. You know. You’ve heard me going on and on about it here. I’m worried you’re sick of it. Shut up already. We know you’re writing a book. Truthfully, I was tired of me too. Talking, writing, thinking about the book. The book, the book, the book.

It was/is my purpose, my dream, my job. It crept into everything. While playing a game of Uno with my kids, a teachable moment presented itself as Annie told me about something that happened at school. I can’t remember this valuable lesson, but my daughter looked up from her cards and said, “You should write a book about it,” delivered perfectly with sarcasm. That’s my girl.

I traveled back in time, exploring and defining everything I felt as the life I knew was ripped from me. So, it made sense that I crashed just a little after revising for the hundredth time and then finally, finally sending it to my publisher.

I needed a break after completing the manuscript, but I couldn’t understand the queasiness in my belly, the lack of logic. I thought I should feel good, satisfied. To celebrate I bought tequila, made margaritas, and indulged in a novel someone else wrote. Then, I disconnected. Much like after I gave birth to Annie. I waited for elation, for the rush that’s supposed to come when you have a baby. I loved her, but I felt responsible, anxious. Not happy, not matching the posters on the hospital walls of contented mothers breastfeeding their newborns. I realized I have the post-book blues.

After all these years I’m still learning how to own my feelings, therapy-speak for ‘be honest’. Hiding is easier than admitting I have a problem. Saying it out loud, acknowledging that vacant flashes bright and neon lessens the burden. I’m empty, I’m afraid, I’m lost. It feels good to tell the truth even if it isn’t the truth we want. Sometimes we don’t know the truth and until we shed light on it, hold it up, we’re stuck. (I didn’t know until a friend pointed it out.) The truth doesn’t always offer a way out, but it gives us a way through.

50 thoughts on “the truth

  1. christy

    Oh man! Totally understandable and relatable Heidi! (it says that isn’t a word – relatable – but it SHOULD be! Is my spelling THAT off??)

    Anyway, hugs to you. Have more meals and drinks with that friend. Play more UNO. Write more about the book — I, for one, LOVED all those posts. And let yourself cry or be depressed with a cup of tea whenever you feel like it. This funk will lift, eventually. xoxo

    1. heidi Post author

      Christy, you’re the sweetest. I will take that hug and your advice. I think the funk is already lifting. When I can finally, finally identify what is bothering me, it helps a ton. I can see clearly, you know?
      xoxo

  2. tara pohlkotte

    oh lordy. so happy someone felt this way with their babies too 🙂 it makes complete sense you would feel this way! I have been working on a few {TINY} writings of my own, and i am currently, as you described sick of hearing myself – thinking word placement, content, editing in particular gets me sick of myself real fast 🙂 I CAN’T WAIT to read your book. to hold your heart in my hands, i’m gunna squeeze it real gental 😉

      1. heidi Post author

        Ha! I’m sticking with gental. I love it. It’s gentle with an accent.
        I know, right? The editing, the ‘say what you mean’ and less passive writing…that’s what is in my head. You really need to live close by so we can talk about this and commiserate. Thank you for ‘getting’ this. It makes me feel better.
        Now I’m trying to come up with a way to use gental in a sentence. 😉

    1. heidi Post author

      Oh, and yes!! The babies. I have a too-long story about the lack of bonding right after I had Annie and how when I tried to share my problem I was met with silence. Like crickets chirping, no one got it silence. But, I won’t get into it now. Actually, it will be in…wait for it…the book. Ha.

      1. Kerstin

        I’m gonna have to butt in right in the middle of this, because I think gental is genius and I’m pretty sure it’s a German accent. (not that I have much of one, but my husband definitely talks “arnoldesque”, if you know what I mean…)
        Anyway – I took an online course with a very accomplished writer about two years ago, on how to sell stories to magazines and write good queries. She had just finished a book and told me that writing a book is much like giving birth. You are just DONE after…
        I can relate, my friend – I sent my manuscript in two weeks ago and even though my book is just a travel guide (even though with a twist), it’s nothing like you were writing, it was still exhausting.
        Good for you for saying it out loud – I can also relate to you feeling like everyone is sick of you talking about the same thing over and over again – I’m guilty of it as well, to a point where I’m sick of myself.
        (Sorry about that long-winded email I sent in reply to your short, sweet one….)
        We should really go and have coffee one day. Soon.

        1. Kerstin

          Oh yeah, and the elation does come – first when you hold the book in your hands and then again when you get your first royalty cheque, like I did yesterday. (If I plan on dying by the end of the year it’s enough for me to quit my day job right now ;))

        2. heidi Post author

          Yes! The DONE. That is how I felt, still feel, but I am slowly coming out of it.
          Yay! To sending the ms! I’m happy for you. I think anytime you put your ‘everything’ into a project it gets exhausting no matter what the project. Travel, memoir, fiction…you’re still pouring everything out to get the right, near perfect results.
          Yes to coffee. Always yes.

  3. Louise Ducote

    Whenever I’ve finished writing something big that meant something to me, usually fiction, I’ve gone into a funk afterwards because I missed the characters so much. Missed spending all day with them. Knew we wouldn’t be hanging out together any longer. And there’s no cure for it except time. I know your book is nonfiction but maybe you miss spending time with that person you were. Or maybe I should quit projecting my own crazy onto you and just enjoy your lovely post! Welcome back.

    1. heidi Post author

      Louise, I think that is definitely part of it. I’ve had this voice in my head for a long while now. It’s my voice, but it was a very persistent, loud voice. And now it’s quiet, vacant in my head. You’re not projecting at all. You’re right. There is a void that just can’t be filled right now. I think the rest of the funk is about pressure and the future as I wait for the book to be released.
      Thank you for your kind and dead-on words. I really, really appreciate them and you.

  4. stephanie

    I’m never sick of you going on about anything. You could write about washing your hair and make it lyrical. The truth doesn’t always offer a way out… wow, how well I understand that. Lovely, insightful post, as always.

    1. heidi Post author

      Stephanie, you are so good to me. I love seeing your name pop up in my inbox. Thank you for this. For your thoughtfulness.

  5. icescreammama

    after something’s done it’s always anti-climatic… you’ve got postpartum. but you finished!! how exciting is that. maybe you need a new challenge…?

    1. heidi Post author

      Yes, I am looking for that next challenge. I’m trying to do small things too like helping out in my son’s classroom, organizing my closet…I’ll get there. Onward for sure. 🙂

  6. Stacey

    I think the longer you work on something, the more of yourself you put into it, the more empty you feel when it’s finished. I completely understand why you would feel that way after finishing your book (which I can’t wait to read, btw!). Hang in there, and feel free to watch as much mindless tv as you want until your next project creeps into your mind. It will.

    1. heidi Post author

      Stacey, thank you for your understanding and your confidence. I soooo appreciate this, more than I can express here. I can just feel you listening, if that makes sense. Thank you, thank you.

  7. Angela Ryan

    This is really well written. I guess that makes sense if you have just authored a book. I really enjoyed reading this — and honesty is damn hard, but it ulitmately heals. You have some great phrasing here. The line I wish I wrote: “vacant flashes bright and neon lessens the burden.” And now my shout out to the return of 30 Rock. Holla Liz Lemon!

    1. heidi Post author

      Ha! Liz Lemon. Another favorite of mine. It comes back this week, right? Can’t wait!
      Thank you for your kind words and your truth. You’re right – honesty is hard and healing. Sometimes you just want everything to be good and ‘together’, and when it isn’t it can be tough to face.

    1. heidi Post author

      Thank you so much, Jacqueline! It helps knowing there are people out there that go through this and feel the same way. It helps a lot. (Tequila is a good little helper too. ;))

  8. Gina

    First of all, congratulation for completing your book. I’m new to you so now I have to go back and read what I’ve missed. I understand your blues as others above have said. When big things in our lives wrap up, we miss that or what we had (kind of like empty nesting for me). I love your honesty here! I need to follow you to learn more!

    1. heidi Post author

      Gina, I’m sure it’s a lot like empty nesting. All this life and people and activity…and then there’s a hole they leave behind. Thank you for your understanding and congrats. I appreciate both. Very much.

  9. Chrustie Tate

    This post makes me want to move to where you live so we can be friends. Writing: yours is awesome. I will never tire if hearing about your process. Never. And this funk makes complete sense. I can’t wait til I have a post book funk. I will tweet you for advice.

    1. heidi Post author

      Aw, thank you Christie! You’re so sweet. Truly. Thank you. You’re right – if there’s going to be a funk it’s a good funk to have. 🙂

  10. Whoa! Susannah

    I think this is a beautiful post. I’ve experienced this after writing. Heck, I’ve experienced this while writing. In fact, I just got out of my own funk a few days ago. And my book isn’t even done. Keep your head up, girl. I think you’re amazing like Leslie Knope.

    1. heidi

      Okay, I read this yesterday and didn’t get a chance to respond until now. I have to tell you that comparing me to Leslie Knope might be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I was absolutely thrilled!! Thank you. So much.

  11. Cat Poland

    Oh, I’m so glad you wrote this. I often feel this funk after “birthing” a big project. I think that’s just it. Whether birthing a child or a novel or a blog post, there’s a letdown. We’re full, and then we push it out, and we’re empty. And like Ms. Outlaw mentioned above, I wish I lived closer so we could have a glass of wine together.

    1. heidi

      Yes, the letdown! That’s a great way to put it. I would enjoy a glass of wine with y’all anytime. How fun would that be? Then we can really talk up this writing stuff. 🙂

  12. Jester Queen

    First of all CONGRATULATIONS. (I typed it in all caps so you could hear me shouting it.) Second, yes, I know exactly what you mean. It’s like all this momentum that I’ve been dedicating to one thing is suddenly …. POOF. And I’m a basket case. Until I start to edit.

    1. heidi

      Thank you for the congrats! I felt it. 🙂
      You’re right – it’s all go, go go and then stop. And then…now what? *sigh*

    1. heidi

      I love, love this “it squishes the shame”. Well said! You’re right – it does.
      I will remember United States of Tara. I’m always looking for good TV to sink into. Thanks!

  13. Emily

    This makes sense, although I hate to see you struggling through it. I think a certain amount of letdown must be normal.

    You’ve accomplished something tremendous though, and I’ll be first in line to read it!

    1. heidi

      Thank you so much, Emily. It’s getting better. Once I can recognize the problem I’m halfway through it. It’s the not knowing what my problem is that makes me so crazy. Once I can put my finger on it, I lose some of the struggle.
      You are wonderful and it’s so great to see you here.

  14. When I Blink

    Delighted to discover your blog!

    It’s perfectly natural to feel unmoored after a big journey like that is over. Good for you for recognizing and putting words to it.

  15. Kenja

    I don’t understand. I thought looking at Ian Somerhalder was the cure for EVERYTHING?!

    Congratulations on your book! I think that’s wonderful that it is completed. Hopefully your muse will come visiting soon with new stories and ideas.

    I guess it’s a good thing to have post-book funk. I have post-put-the-half-written-book-in-a-drawer-and-forget-it funk. But I just watch Ian Somerhalder and it all goes away. 🙂

    1. heidi

      Haha!! You’d think that would be enough, not to mention Paul Wesley, and must admit I have a bit of a girl crush on Nina Dobrev. She’s just lovely. That whole cast is ridiculous.
      Thank you for the congrats. I really appreciate it. I get how silly this might sound – to be all melancholy after something as great as this happens to you. I am super grateful. But, there they are…my mixed-up feelings. For better or worse. 🙂

  16. Michelle Longo

    Your writing is always so honest and relatable. I can’t wait to read your book and I never tire of hearing about it. But, I do tire of my own voice. The one out loud, the one in my head… I get it. And yes, I can relate to the feeling after birth too. Wishing you brighter days 🙂

    1. heidi

      Michelle, you are so sweet and thoughtful. Thank you very, very much. And thank you for ‘getting it’ with me. It helps, a lot.

  17. IASoupMama

    I haven’t had this feeling about anything I’ve written, but I absolutely do go into a funk after a show. I get to rehearse something fun and daring and be someone else for six weeks, then the show closes and I’m back to boring old me. Gets me every time…

  18. Stacie @ Snaps and Bits

    Congratulations on your book! I love reading what you write! I am/was a scientist so mostly I’ve written journal articles. It’s not the same – I always feel happy they are done and out of the way. I doubt I’ll ever be lucky enough to write a real book, but I can imagine it would be totally different!

  19. Kathleen

    It’s my first time here, and I have to tell you that I loved this post and your story.

    I totally get the giving birth analogy, but as in motherhood, there will always be a next project, something new to finish. In the meantime, enjoy the anticipation of your soon-to-be-born baby. How amazing is it that you are publishing a book anyway? I’m in awe.

  20. Julia

    Sigh. I can so relate to the post-birth feeling. I was not happy. I did not feel like a mommy. I was absolutely disconnected.
    And it would absolutely make sense that you would feel that way after pouring so much of yourself into your book.
    “The truth doesn’t always offer a way out, but it gives us a way through.” – I love this.
    I am so happy for you and your book. Sending lots of love your way as you navigate through this time. And yay for Parks and Rec!

  21. marika

    “It feels good to tell the truth even if it isn’t the truth we want.” Yes, yes, yes! Maybe I should tattoo this somewhere on my body? I know this seemed to be a post on post-publication blues, but it went so many places and touched on so many important themes. I don’t know how you did it, but I liked it…

  22. Galit Breen

    Oh you, yes. Owning your truth, speaking it out loud, letting it light your path.

    we now that’s good and right and best. But it’s still damn hard everysingletime, isn’t it?

    (And for the record, never sick of you. Never.)

    xo

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