This Book May Be Hazerdous to Your Health, or, the Flipside of Finishing Things

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Over the last few months years, some of you (or none of you, whatever) might have noticed that I’ll post a flurry of material here, only to go dormant for a week or two. I wouldn’t say anything at the time, but what that silence always meant was BRB WORKING ON BOOKSHIT. This past week was no exception, although the difference was that these revisions were light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel revisions — only one round left to go after this (let me tell you, the road to publication is……circuitous). I’ve since sent the revised manuscript off to MIT, and am eagerly awaiting my final reader comments. Once I’ve got those, I’ll have until June 1 to get everything buttoned up, including the little nitpicky formatting details that will likely make the last two weeks of May absolute hell. There are still miles to go before I sleep, in other words, but at least I now have a concrete endpoint.

This is an odd proposition, since all I have wanted for the last six years was to be done with this project. On the other hand, I’m also noticing a strange kind of denial that the end is indeed nigh (“What will you do once the book is finished,” my partner asked the other night. “THE BOOK WILL NEVER BE FINISHED,” I hissed, transforming into a vampire bat). I’ve been told by many people, my mother most vocally, to expect this sort of reaction. Weird things happen to people when they finish things, she’s reminded me again and again, usually in the context of marathon runners who end up feeling depressed after completing whatever race they’ve just spent months or even years preparing for — however well they end up doing. I remember this feeling quite well from my competitive running days, and as a college and graduate student experienced something similar at the end of every semester. There’s just this SILENCE where once there was a cyclone of activity, which to me anyway has always been deeply unsettling. Have to fill the void with something else, have to find a new project, have to keep moving because to stop moving is to…I don’t even know what the fear is, all I know is that it’s there.

Given that weirdness, what’s been happening to me physically these past few days isn’t terribly surprising — which is why I’m writing this post, actually. Starting about Sunday, I started feeling a bit under the weather. But I had revisions to make, so I kept trucking, kept trucking. I managed to finish the revisions a day early, and sent them off to my editor late Wednesday evening. At which point I got hit SO HARD with whatever thing I’d been fighting off, and spent all of Thursday in a sneezy, feverish, cough-monster haze. I am currently drugged up to the gills (hey America’s teens, do you know what you’re wrong about? Robotripping as a fun recreational activity), and am half-convinced I got run over by a truck last night, somehow, while sleeping.

This is very interesting. It’s awful, because being sick is awful, but there’s absolutely no way that this isn’t psychosomatic. Hence, interesting. Even science approves of that theory, sort of; there seems to be a correlation between completion of a large project and illness, though no one fully understands why. White blood cell misfiring and autoimmune shutdown brought about by disrupted sleep patterns and humoral freakout, or something.

So I don’t know, I’m tired and feel like crap. But at least it’s normal? Sure. I’ll go with that.

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