(or what does it feel like when you finish writing a book)
No, I’m still not sleeping alone. Elina… She’s still lying in my bed. We talk at night, I softly whisper that it’s over, but she doesn’t listen and stubbornly turns her head:
– Let me sleep…
And I let her go, telling myself – just one more night. So I lie down and watch her breathing and I’m not sure whether I should cover her, or put a pillow over her head. I don’t want her to leave. But I don’t want her to stay here forever too. Other characters are waiting for their turn. Then I caress her hair for a long time, and call her sweet names, while she sighs sleepily with open mouth, until I fall asleep myself, again and again fascinated by a sight of my own creation.
I don’t know what is it with me. Really. My book is finished and it’s an uncomfortable feeling. To finish something. That has multiple pages. I have never done it before. Probably anything you do for the first time, after you fulfill your desire, seems something like that, strange. The first marathon you ran. The first job you get. The first trembling kiss. The first jump with a parachute. The first… Book. To be separated from someone you think about every day. Like I have no one to return to. Like I have nowhere to go. Like a ground is pulled beneath my feet. And all I can do is get back to a completely blank sheet of paper. Where are no longer the ones I created a moment ago.
After the final encore, a rock star enthusiastically says thank you, while the crowd is yelling we want more. Novak Djokovic strikes the ball, throws his racket, goes down on his knees and raises his hands excitedly into the air. Or an actor bows until the curtain goes down while applause and flowers are coming from the audience. And a writer? He sits with his hand on his forehead frantically biting his lip (usually around 3 am). If I can compare, I only feel incomplete. Without any catharsis. As I was writing the last words (although I had no idea that it would end this way), there were no euphoria. More like – complete mental exhaustion. Inexplicable sadness. And groundless nervousness. If anything, I was hoping that I would feel some kind of relief or pride. But no trace of either one.
I admit, an anxiety caught me just before I finished. And a terrible headache because I have to give my book to anyone. To show it. I didn’t want that. I wanted, like in my book, to leave my artwork to myself. To be with me, below my heart. That no one ever sees it. To put it in a virtual drawer that I never have to open.
And to be brutally honest, I’ve never written my book for anyone else anyway; only for myself and because of myself. I was reading my own lines, intoxicated. I loved Elina’s words. I loved her behavior. I loved her airy existence. And at a very thought to give her to anyone else who will not adore her as much as I do – my stomach turned and I felt sick from uneasiness. How terrible that was. To let her go alone into the world. To let her go naked, to be watched. For someone to judge her. To ignore her. To pass by her. That she, God forbid, annoys someone. My Elina! The person who waited for me faithfully every night for almost 4 years. That never argued with me, although she was very disobedient. That I could not even identify myself.
And the three of them together. Young Vuk. Magic, handsome dark-haired guy. Adorable and tight and thoughtful and full of understanding. Confused and immature and tough but with a will to improve. And her husband, Alojz. A successful businessman who has been so busy with his appetites, that he couldn’t devote, not to Elina, but to himself and his life. He was infinitely good and did the best he knew. And Elina? Famous painter, with long hair and million different colors and characters inside of her, that wasn’t me, and yet she came out of me, from each of my finger (author’s note: it is really strange that you type on a keyboard with all ten fingers, and that we used to write with one hand and only two fingers). She, whom I was afraid that would be identified with me, although I always talked about her (and wrote about her) in the third person. I didn’t want to be her, nor did she have any desire to be me (that’s why she murmured before bedtime). She lived in her own Belgrade, completely different than mine or was it the same city and we simply haven’t met? Maybe this feeling was similar to letting children go out to play – they were screaming so hard that you couldn’t wait to get rid of them, but now that they are not here, everything seems just too quiet.
That’s how it is with Elina… And with me? With Ana? Hm… She’s… She’s Ana Gord. She’s not me. And she is me. I’m not quite sure, I’m still getting used to this role. The other one, the normal me that’s still not aware that she’s a writer, she’s a little confused. I didn’t expect it to be an end and a beginning at the same time. That I should let someone else meet all personalities that came from me. It was terrifying. They lived so comfortably tucked into a private world of my hard drive, where their every need was fulfilled for years. Opening the book and myself to the audience was… Well, uncomfortable at least.
By the way, it seems that Elina is upset. I sent her to an examination to an editor. I’m not sure, maybe she’s not upset, but she just doesn’t understand that she needs to find someone else’s bed to sleep in. And I worry about who is going to take her in, as she was a frozen kitty, and not just one ((extra)ordinary) character from one (ordinary) book!
A logical question follows – why did I decide to publish it then? Well among other reasons, because it’s completely natural that something that I read about 8 million times sounds stupid (and it seemed so phenomenal at first). No matter how great my writing is and all my words are full of divinity, now everything seems like messy stain on a flickering screen. And that’s fine. It needs to look like that. It’s all part of the writing process and I’m certainly not the only one who deals with thoughts like that. On a paper, I lied and I made up (shamelessly!) and created a whole new world in my head and characters that I fight with; it’s probably ok that I think I’m crazy. Because my characters are beautiful enough to be presented to someone else besides me. And they are also parts of other personalities as well.
Also, I often forget two things but I do remember them (thankfully!) at the right time: 1) perfection doesn’t exist and 2) I write good. I can doubt myself and feel the flames of hell. But if writing a book was light and relaxed, everyone would write one. It’s ok to feel this way. Now it’s time to bite the bullet, get up, shake off the dust and move on. There’s no other way than forward. I’ve already been in the past. And writing has always been the only thing that always made sense to me and that’s what I
love worship to do. This is how I’m learning to be my biggest support. To be by my side. To stand by my own words. To vote for myself. And because it’s time; I feel it in my stomach (behind my navel), it is time for all of them to move on.
Finishing the book is really just – weird. The feeling that you need to get used to. Because in essence, this is not the end. This is the beginning of existence of a new story I created myself. And in this story, I can comfortably get Elina out of my bed. I move her to other people’s pillows.
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