Warning: Whining Ahead

Well, I’ve done it, I’ve finished my book, and you know what? I hate it. I’ve had the biggest emotional turnaround over it and I’m not sure I know why. For three-quarters of the writing, I was loving the experience, and I didn’t think it was going too badly. Then this last 25,000 words have been murder and have needed to be wrenched out against formidable resistance. This must have something to do with the fact I’ve been writing about the past five years of my life and the chronic fatigue that has brought about such big changes. I’ve never had to sum it up before, and although I still feel I made the right decisions (I couldn’t still be teaching full time now, that would be worse), and although I know I chose all sorts of good things, like spaciousness, and time with my family, and less pressure on myself, I suppose I have had to think about all that I have given up or simply lost. I assumed it would be cathartic, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way. Writing about chronic fatigue has put me into that chronic fatigue space, which is rarely an advantage. The other evening I told Mister Litlove that it was fortunate the book only existed virtually or else I’d be tempted to burn it. And he said, hang on in there, you’ll get over it. There may have been eye rolling when I was looking in the other direction.

And so I have been plagued with symptoms again, in particular an aching hip which is annoying me as a) it makes me feel about a hundred years old and b) I’ve never had joint or muscular pain before now so it’s freaking me out. Yes, I have been to see my doctor, who packed me off for a load of blood tests. The nurse looked at me with a worried expression when I went in and asked whether people had had trouble in the past getting blood out of me. I said no, and wondered whether to turn around and leave, because I do so like medical professionals to be ebulliently confident before they start sticking the needles in. But all went well and I have several days now for my active imagination to come up with all sorts of unpleasant diseases I could be suffering from, although internet searching suggests that hormone imbalance, notably problems with cortisol (the chronic fatigue hormone par excellence), might well have a part to play.

So anyway, I do apologise for the rather whiny tone of the post, but I’m feeling a bit emotionally battered here. It’s been a very strange month, what with my poor cat dying, and the book being finished and all sorts of emotional stresses and surprises cropping up. But then I thought of all my blogging friends, and you always lift my spirits. I’ve obviously been on my own too much, fretting and worrying and churning up the past. How pleasant to get back to a bit of book chat and to put these other cares behind me. I’ve got lots of books to talk about, as well, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow, Lucie Whitehouse’s The Bed I Made, Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch, Rosy Thornton’s Tapestry of Love. I haven’t exactly come up with a new way to talk about books, as I had hoped I would, but I guess I can fall back on the old one. As I’m a bit under the weather, I won’t be posting at my full speed, but I do intend to be back here next week to air the old Reading Room. Do hope to see you then.


31 thoughts on “Warning: Whining Ahead

  1. Good to have you back and looking forward to your comments on the books, some of which I have read. Well done for finishing the book — perhaps you will hate it less when you have a bit of distance from it. And you don’t sound whiny at all — hope the results come out ok.

  2. I think hating your book once it is done is a normal stage. Just put it away and start something new. By the time you forget all about it and check it again, you’ll not only love it a lot more than you do now, you’ll be able to see how to fix it easier.

    Best of luck with your hip. Hope things go well for you!

  3. Litlove, I am so sorry you aren’t feeling well. You know, when I was in college after each term I would get sick. I could almost mark the date on the calendar. Stress can do that to a person. I am sure your book is brilliant and I hope you will tell us more about it and let us know when it is published. In the meant time, rest and take care and ease your way back to blogging.

  4. Congratulations on finishing your book! Even if you hate it I’m sure it’s fine – I hate reading what I’ve written if it’s personal, just as much as I hate looking at photos of myself.

    Not that I often have blood taken, but it’s usually difficult – I hate needles and it doesn’t help when you’re told you have thick skin, and they have to have a go at the other arm! Hope everything is ok.

    Glad you’re back and looking forward to reading about your reading.

  5. Congrats on finishing the book! I always hate everything I’ve written — comes with the territory, I think. I am sure it’s fabulous, though. Hope you feel better soon!

  6. I’m making you a cup of tea right now. No wonder you’re exhausted and feeling sick — I can only imagine the rate at which you’ve been driving yourself to finish this challenging book. It’ll be good to just enjoy other peoples’ books for a while, don’t you think? I find that when I’m sick of my own work, it sometimes help to read things I like (and even things I don’t like). It livens me up and gets me going again.

    I’m looking forward to your reviews, and your return, because, really, things feel a little empty when you’re not writing on your blog.


  7. Sorry you’re not feeling well but so happy to see you back! Jenny and I both just read The Night Watch last month and enjoyed it, so I’m eager to hear what you thought.

  8. Poor you! Your post fills me with sympathy for so many reasons, not least of which is that nurses always ask me that when they take blood from me. The veins on my hands are lumpy, but when they get up to the inside of my elbow, they vanish, no matter how much I hydrate. :/

    If it makes you feel any better, I am nearly always filled with passionate hatred for anything I’ve written just as I finish it. I think it’s to do with the fact that I know the next step is rewriting, which I never want to start doing (though I often enjoy it once I start).

  9. First, CONGRATULATIONS. Take a bow. In the mirror. Right now.

    I mean it, Litlove. And after you’ve given yourself a proper bow, round it off with a nice enthusiastic pat on the back. You’ve earned it.

    Okay, second, I agree with Stephanie. NO WONDER you’re feeling creaky and debilitated and hateful – you’ve just written a book, for god’s sake! You’d be much heartened, I think, to read Patrick White’s letters to friends both during and after the birth of each of his books. He suffered terribly from asthma, and terribly from writing, and I’ve lost count of the number of times he was hospitalised. A pretty unhealthy business, writing. But that collapse-after-the-final-exam syndrome is so familiar and so common I think it’s just bound up in the general awfulness of what we do to ourselves when we’re trying to accomplish anything. It’s just caught up with you now, as it was always going to. And that’s okay.

    Promise me you’ll stop searching symptoms on the internet.

  10. big hugs to you; my fibro has been incredibly cranky lately, and I’ve felt whiny and thus been avoiding my blog as well. But I just came back on Monday, and my readers have made me feel so much happier. πŸ™‚

    I remember when I first started feeling joint pain, a couple of years ago; I’d never experienced it before either and it made me so panicky! The doctors haven’t been able to tell me why it started, but I hope that your tests come back more conclusive. Also, like you, when I dwell on my fibro (primarily for me when I’m talking about it, if a new acquaintance asks or if a friend wants to know how it’s been going lately), I just end up depressed. *sigh*

    So! I suppose I’m writing this comment to reassure you that you’re not alone, and that you can ‘whine’ whenever you need to. πŸ™‚ Even though the last bit of your book was so difficult, congratulations on finishing it: such a big accomplishment! And I can’t wait to see your next post pop up in my reader. πŸ˜‰

  11. Sorry to hear about the new symptoms, and that finishing the book was not cathartic as it should have been! I hope a few weeks of summer holidays and lots of delicious reading will make you feel much better.

  12. But you have finished your book, hurrah! Which brings with it a certain entitlement to some whining, because it’s such an achievement. Every single word I ever managed to force onto a page was effort, so I remain in awe that anyone can talk so blithely of the last 25,000.
    Sorry that you aren’t feeling well, but welcome back!

  13. Congratulations – and I mean a big congratulations – on finishing the book. Even if those last 25,000 words weren’t fun, the fact that you kept on writing is wonderful, and admirable. I hope you’re feeling better soon and am very happy to have you back online!

  14. Not at all whiny. I find it hard to put one thousand words into order so a hundred times that seems an impossible mountain to climb. Exhaustion at the end of a marathon is to be expected. All the little weaknesses will attack with ferocity. After a recovery period, all will be well again. Well done. πŸ™‚

  15. Whoa, what a great surprise to have you back with such great news! Congrats on the book, I’m sure you’ll love it in a few months’ time. Be sure to take care of yourself and rest, in the meantime.

  16. My dear, I wish you were here so that I could tuck you up on the couch with a blanket and serve you a cup of tea and a home made muffin. (Of course I would have to home make the muffins first, and we would have to hope it wasn’t steamy in Toronto while the oven was on!)

    You’ve done a huge piece of work and it’s no wonder that you’re feeling the symptoms you were writing about. This will pass and you’ll be able to think about the book again and I hope feel differently about it.

    Is it possible that there is something more to write? In my own experience if I haven’t passed through the emotional challenge of going deep, then I’m not done. There is, for me, something more to know or discover that is redemptive.

    But that may be all wet and not apply to you at all. It may just be a matter of being exhausted by the effort of finishing, and being sad about your cat and other losses bringing on a return of symptoms, which is no fun at all.

    I wish you time to recoup, all the rest that you need, and a return to contentment and ease.

  17. On a completely selfish note I’m so glad you are back–you have really been missed. I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well–it sounds like you’ve been through the ringer emotionally and finishing a book is such a huge effort. Surely that takes a toll. I think it’s a good idea to concentrate on other things for a while and step back from your writing. I wonder if any artist is ever completely happy with their work? Perhaps with a little time and distance you’ll see it differently. In any case congratulations as that is such an achievement. I hate doctor’s offices, too. Why do nurses always manage to say just the wrong thing? I hope the results come back quickly and everything is fine. Take care of yourself!

  18. Blogging friends, you are THE BEST. You make such a difference with your words.

    Harriet – I’ve been reading blogs although not commenting much, but I’ve noticed how similar our reading has been lately! I’ve really enjoyed your posts and am looking forward to commenting on those books we’ve shared. And thank you for your kind words; I’m sure distance will help no end.

    amkuska – it’s very comforting to know I’m not alone. I’ve duly put it away and am hoping the rest of your sensible predictions will follow!

    Stefanie – hugs to you, my friend. You are so right that the foot-off-the-pedal moment does so often bring a downturn in health. Chronic fatigue can obscure the perfectly ordinary low points of life! I am resting well at the moment and really looking forward to getting back to the swing of blogging. I’ve missed you!

    Booksplease – oh you are so kind. Thank you for the lovely comment. I’m beginning to feel a bit better about the book (entirely due to the encouraging comments here). And isn’t having blood taken a trial! But I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone in the blogosphere – it’s been too long.

    Kristi – that is so nice of you to say! I’m finding it so reassuring to know that other people go through the same thing. It’s such helpful solidarity.

    Bloglily – dear Bloglily. You have not lost your talent for saying exactly the right, comforting thing. I am piling up a big stack of books to enjoy over the next couple of weeks. Exactly the right medicine, I’d say. And I’m really looking forward to catching up with the blogworld again. Put the kettle on, my friend, we’ll have that tea. πŸ™‚

    Teresa – it was reading the posts you and Jenny wrote that inspired me to pick up the book and I’m so glad I did. I loved it. But I’ll say more on that later. It’s so lovely to see you here, thank you for dropping by.

    Jenny – hugs to you. And it really DOES help to know you feel just the same. Writing academic books was somehow different. They were always restrained by so many rules and guidelines that once they were done I knew what they were. This free-form stuff is altogether more stressful! And my sympathy to you for the trials of having blood taken – it’s no fun to have people leaping up and down on your veins!

    Doctordi – you know, I think I might just read your comment over and over until I’ve committed it to memory. πŸ™‚ You sort me out, really you do. Thank you, my friend. Is it too scary to say that the internet is far more sensible than the inside of my head? But I promise, no more searching. I’m going to go and chill out with some good books (and look up Patrick White’s letters, while I’m at it).

    Eva – what a lovely comment, thank you! I was so hoping you might read this, because it could so easily be a bit of fibro that I’m suffering from and I wondered how similar it was to what you have to go through. I really hoped that writing an account of cfs would help me understand it, but it’s probably better to think of other things, isn’t it? But good friends and sympathetic understanding friends at that, seem to be one of the best therapies, and I’m so glad to be blogging again to have your support and that of other dear friends. The blogging community is wonderful.

  19. Cam – thank you for that – I’ve missed the blogosphere, too. Lots.

    Charlotte – that’s so lovely of you, thank you. And I couldn’t agree more – some holiday and some good reading will soon put me right. πŸ™‚

    Ms Musings – do you know, you have instantly made my book more attractive to me, now I know it entitle me to whine! πŸ™‚ It’s become useful! And it’s lovely to be back among such supportive friends – thank you for your lovely comment and big hugs.

    Verbivore – it is so lovely to hear from you and thank you for such a kind and encouraging comment. I suppose I was just determined to get to the end, so it’s extremely nice to have someone tell me that was a virtue. Hugs to you and to Mademoiselle Petitvore – I’ll bet she’s growing fast!

    Archie – dear Archie! It’s wonderful to have you visit. I’m behind with everything so I haven’t replied to the last comments on my previous post, but thank you for that too. It’s so good to catch up with you again. And you speak such good sense. A little holiday and all those weaknesses will get right back in their box, right? πŸ™‚

    Smithereens – it’s lovely to hear from you too! Thank you for such a lovely comment. Without you and my other blogging friends I wouldn’t have appreciated the book at all, but I’m gradually getting there! It’s really nice to be back.

    Lilian – oh that sounds SO inviting! One day someone’s got to come up with a teleporter and then I can actually visit my dear blogging friends. You know, you may have something there, too. I have written the epilogue all wrong. It’s only an 8-page coda, but somehow it matters, because I wanted to write myself a happy ending and it hasn’t quite worked. Perhaps it’s a question of going deeper, or finding some other perspective. But you’re right I’m just tired too. With some rest and relaxation perhaps that right ending will come and I’ll finally be satisfied. Thank you for that insight.

    Danielle – I needed the break, but now I find I’ve been really missing the blogosphere and it’s lovely to be back. Selfishly, I’m happy to have been missed! It’s certainly time to take a break and to rest and read and just think about what I’ve been reading. I think you’re right that it’s really hard ever to be satisfied with something you’ve made – I know where all the flaws are! But time and distance DO help, and the comments of my dear blogging friends help even more. Thank you for your lovely comment – it’s so nice to be back.

  20. Well congratulations on finishing the book. I think you are supposed to hate it immediately after finishing it. With a little space, you will love it again. Especially when the publisher loves it! I think there may be an analogy in there somewhere relating to children…..
    And sorry about feeling ill. I am in the middle of a little scare, so I know what you mean about imaginings of all things dreadful. I try to stay up as late as possible, so I am EXHAUSTED and don’t wake up in the night to think!
    You are back blogging – how delightful (for us readers, anyway). It is so difficult to attend to everything. I change my priority list every day, but blogging remains close to the bottom, I am sad to say.
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? I loved all three books, with some reservations (got sick to death of math in the one… must admit I skimmed). I’ve seen two of the movies and thought they were great, but I was glad I had read the book first… so much had to be left out.
    Well, welcome back. Hope you are feeling better already. Looking forward to reading your future posts!! πŸ™‚

  21. Congratulations! Of course you hate your book, darling — catharsis and revelation do that to a person … sort of like carving out your own guts and then looking at them in the mirror. Any proper person would find that to be a bit hideous until they fully realized the value of it to themselves and others. Seeing that anatomy clearly can save lives. Really.

  22. For someone with chronic fatigue, you seem incredibly prolific. I think everyone goes through stages of loving and hating their writing. If your book took you to that chronic fatigue place, it must mean that you conveyed it vividly and articulately for others to understand. Any my cat died a few weeks ago, peacefully, on the couch. It’s very sad to lose pets.

  23. Yes, I’ve heard that the last 25,000 words (geeze!) can be doozies;) I give you enormous credit for finishing your book, period. There’s always some remorse when a project ends, whether it’s small, like a blog post (Ack! I hit publish!) or painting a room (Why did I choose that color?), or large (buying a house–egad!), spending three years of one’s life in a creative pursuit(Can I do it? Why did I do it? Am I NUTS?)…I hope that by now your leg is feeling better, and that you’ve put the virtual pages of your book away for a bit. Good that you’ll be clearing your head with a bit of blogging. Have missed you and your reviews–your entire outlook–greatly. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!

  24. Qugrainne – it is so lovely to have you visit, but you have ALL my sympathy for your health scare. They are so distressing. I have everything crossed that you will soon be given either a full bill of health or a nice, straightforward solution. One that involves a bit of rest with plenty of time to read. I really enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and am sure I will carry on to read the rest of the trilogy (maths notwithstanding – I will also skip, I expect!). And thank you for being so kind about the book. Thanks to my blogging friends, I am beginning to feel a bit better about it now.

    David – hugs to you for making me laugh. It IS like looking at your guts in the mirror and saying ‘Ewwwwww’. Maybe I’ll get used to looking at them, after a while… Thank you for such a lovely encouraging comment.

    Squirrel – yay! So nice to hear from you, too. I must come over and see how you have been. But I am SO sorry to hear about your cat. I’m relieved to hear she went so peacefully, but it’s still bad for those who are left behind. And thank you for being so reassuring about the book. I don’t do much else these days apart from write, so that’s how come I get through the words!

    ds – you always leave such lovely comments. You made me laugh so with your quotations in brackets – have you been inside my mind, by any chance? I am definitely having a bit of a break- distance is very good, and reading and blogging are good, too. It will be lovely to catch up with everyone now – it’s been a while.

  25. I feel a bit late to the party here, but first off let me add my congratulations on finishing the book! Whatever your feelings about it at the moment (and I imagine some loathing is quite normal at this stage, especially if you’re not feeling well physically) it’s a marvelous accomplishment to be able to complete such a project.

    Secondly, I do think you’re allowed some whining now and again, and none of us minds listening in the least, especially when even your whining posts are so lovely and well written.

    Thirdly (and then I’m done) I’m glad you’ve got some good reading to lift your spirits. I just read Rosy’s latest, Tapestry of Love, and it did my heart good πŸ™‚

    Take care, my friend πŸ™‚

  26. I’m very late too but just wanted to say congratulations on finishing your book! As for ‘the last 25,000 words’, I’ve never managed to write MORE than that and by God every one was forged of endless tears and deletions and flounces (and this was academic writing too!). So I am in awe of you, and managing to do that with cfs is truly impressive.

    And seriously, you call that whining? You have much to learn.

    I hope that your books all do the trick and you feel better soon. And I believe it’s true that some distance helps you view your work more objectively (I’ve never ever been able to bear to read anything I ever wrote again so I don’t know) – and I can’t believe, judging by what you write here, that it could be anything like as bad as you imagine.

  27. Huge congratulations on finishing your book! I’m sorry to hear about the ‘post-partum depression’, which I rather think is not uncommon, but not thereby less devastating, of course – just like post-partum depression without inverted commas. I’m sure you’re right, too, that going deeply into such a hard period of your life in order to summon a telling evocation of it has played a part in this. I’m equally sure that it’s a good book. All my best wishes go with it, and I very much look forward to reading your superb and much missed writing more regularly here again.

  28. Dear LL, I haven’t been around in ages because I haven’t read anything worthy ( I suspect you can guess what i mean – it’s been a pile of summer books, only, and on top of that, as I eye my job/career from the millionth perspective I could get on it, I’m wondering about keeping it/walking away. So that’s not much fun to write/ blog about yet it consumes at least 50 hours of my week. (sigh)
    I am so sorry about your cat. I empathize, truly, I do. We are dog lovers here but cats, dogs, rabbits – it doesn’t matter. We love them and invite them into our homes and we miss them. I realized a few weeks ago that perhaps to get over our “big dog” that died last year, I might have to just get another one. It might be the only way to get over a pet. And yet, we thought we might do more traveling! so many decisions.
    And I believe it’s perfectly normal to feel “all over the place” so to speak about your book now that you’ve finished it. Part of it is about matching what your expectations of it are to the actuality of it. You need time to let it sit. And then go back to it. And then, like a grown child, push it out into the world. And at some point, possibly much to your own surprise, you’ll be on to the next one and not think about this one (depending on how much marketing of it you have to do yourself!)
    So this is my huge “congratulations!” on getting to the book’s finish line. Oh sure you may be go back and do this and that to it, but you did it – you get it all on paper, er, e-file. That’s awesome.
    Hope you’re doing well; perhaps the weather can be blamed for some of your discomfort – egads, it’s hot and muggy here and often around 5 pm, everyone mentions the drain of the sun and the heat. Although i will always swear that I love summer best – it’s not just a season, it’s a mindset – bare feet, freedom, beaches, etc.!

    I”m trying to be a bit more bookish and “writerly” on my blog these days…thought about an entirely new venue, but nah…like you say, it’s just so good to hear from blogworld friends who indeed do become such!
    Happy Summer!

  29. Sorry to hear that you aren’t feeling well. After accomplishing the completion of your book you might be experiencing a let down. I would think it would be normal after the culmination of all of your efforts. Hopefully you will find the experience to be cathartic in the long run. And hopefully you will be comforted and inspired by all of your many blogging friends!

  30. Becca – oh hugs to you my friend for such a lovely, kind comment. You can turn up to the party just whenever you like as far as I’m concerned! I’m just delighted to have you a part of it. And wasn’t Rosy’s latest good?? I love it that you loved it too.

    helen – bless you! I think 25,000 academic words are the hardest kind to write! I do remember that they went MUCH slower than the more usual forms of writing. I used to write a sentence, delete two-thirds of it, write it again, delete.. etc. Thanks to the wonderful support I’ve had here I’m actually feeling much better about the book – well, that’s to say much better about feeling negative about it. Distance can only be good, and I’m sure a time will come again when I feel able to tackle it. Thank you for your wonderful comment – you do help.

    Jean – oh thank you so much. It’s a difficult balance, isn’t it? I feel better usually for talking things through and thinking around them, but then it’s all too easy to go too far and to undermine the positive by the sheer weight of the negative. I haven’t found a way of balancing it all out yet. I suppose that may never happen! But I realise how much I’ve missed my blogging friends and it is fantastic to be in contact with you again.

    Oh – it’s fantastic to see you and thank you for such a reassuring comment. Isn’t it difficult to make the right decision with pets? I’d like another kitten, but given we still have one pet, that isn’t going to work, probably. I’m so very sorry to hear about your dog. Our beloved animals take a lot of getting over. I’ve also been reading very light fare of late, but I think I’ll probably write about it anyway – it’s all grist to the mill! πŸ˜‰ My husband has been pondering his career a lot lately, so you have my huge sympathy. That’s another trial to be overcome (again and again!). But it IS all that much easier with the support of dear blogging friends. You lift my heart. And you are so right about expectation and reality as far as the book is concerned. I think every book begins life perfect in the writer’s mind and then ends up flawed and different and not quite how it’s supposed to be in reality. You’re probably spot on that it’s getting used to the thought of that that counts!

    Kathleen – thank you so very much for dropping by and lending your support. I appreciate it hugely! The blogging community is just magnificent,and I’m so glad you’re a part of it.

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