Separation Anxiety

From Wikipedia:

…a psychological condition in which an individual experiences excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment.

Paraphrased from an online forum discussing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month):

“I’m almost done with my novel and I feel like someone close to me is about to die.”

Symptoms of separation anxiety include headaches, anxiety, malaise, and nightmares.


I’m typically the type of person who plows through hard situations, head down, determined to get to a calmer place and let reaction take its hold. I repress it, you see, remaining in control at all times until I am alone and can act like a human where nobody can see. As my friend and I say, we take our butch pills, flex, and try not to react to the difficult emotional stimuli in our lives.

But that’s never really successful, is it? Stress doesn’t magically disappear like some nightmare monster when you turn your back on it. It acts up; it comes back; it manifests in odd ways.

Publishing my first novel has been something like this. I have hunkered down, accepted the good and the bad, and thought I was okay. Then the headaches started. Then I couldn’t sleep. I tried to conjure up the fantasies that always precede writing and came up with a blankness of imagination I’m not accustomed to. The only things that came to me were the characters I have recently loosed into the world.

What followed was a lack of desire to do anything at all: write, read, watch TV, work, etc. I seem to be unable to focus on anything unless I tune out everything else. As a notorious multi-tasker, this is an odd state of mind for me.

It hit me over the weekend: I miss Austin and Cris, Quinton, Taylor, Pearl, etc. And not just a little bit. I miss them a lot.

They will always be with me, of course, but they aren’t only mine anymore. People can see and read and witness what has been inside of my head for years. I have read other people say publication is like sending your children out to college. They are on their own, to sink or swim, and some people will love them, other people will be mean to them, and most others won’t care at all.

A few entries ago I mentioned that I was going to start the new project that next day, and I did. But it wasn’t the project I intended to start. And it went nowhere. I wrote a page of notes, stopped, and haven’t returned. I listened to an entire audio book in two days. I lazed around, thinking about nothing. I listened to a lot of music and tried to focus. All that came to me was an urge to work on Winter’s Trial…but I can’t. It’s done. It’s over. There’s nothing more to do with it.

And that hurt me. But it also made me happy. I have been contacted by some absolutely lovely people who tell me that they love my characters, that they feel for them, that they have cried and laughed with them. And that…well, I can’t describe it because I haven’t plumbed the depth of those feelings.

But today I had some extra time at work and picked up research for the Ambitious Project I have mentioned before. (Unfortunately, the Senior Vice President of the company I work for Apparated out of nowhere at my desk as a pictures of Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII glared out from my monitor. I couldn’t even pretend that it was work related. Thankfully, I was able to give him what he needed when people three levels above me couldn’t, and he hasn’t mentioned my perusing Wikipedia. Hooray for continued employment!)

But the research was a start. Then I thought about the smaller project (the one I intended to start) and came up with something I like. Then Quinton’s jerkface mate sprung into my head to tell me how the next wolf novel should start. Damn it, he was right, too. It’s much better than what I had planned…if somewhat bloodier than Taylor’s graduation where I had intended to start things. And finally an ogre from the Ambitious Project stomped through my head and demanded attention.

I still miss Cris and Austin, but they will be around. And apparently, they will be joined in my head by several other projects now clamoring for attention. Mers, super heroes, Quinton’s mate, and a bitch giant. All different stories, all wanting attention.

Hopefully I can get over this feeling of separation, this absurd empty nest feeling, this almost pretentious attachment to my characters to give these people the attention they deserve.

The thought gives me angina.


~ by Darren Endymion on September 10, 2013.

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