Written by Helen Currie Foster
The first week after the book is finished. Horrible. Finishing a book feels a bit like having a broken spring. A cartoon clock where the springs go SPROING out the back, twisting like Little Orphan Annie’s ringlets.
Post-book dementia has been ignored by the scientific community. Yet it’s a known syndrome, leaving the writer desperate.
Symptoms? Apathy. Refusal to read headlines. Compulsive retreat into mysteries from the sixties—John MacDonald. Helen MacInnes. Waking at three a.m. and staring into darkness, lost without a plot tangle to unravel. Executive function area of brain on unauthorized vacation.
Cures? None known. One wise practitioner advises Tincture of Time. Thyme? What did he say?
Hard runs, uphill both ways. Try to beat your own best thyme. Time?
Locate small child. Ask child about book plot for witch and wizard story, using “Yes And!” for action sequence.
Eat only favorite foods.
Lug contractor-weight trash bag into house; dispose of all but evidentiary (i.e., proof of copyright) drafts of Book. Mild rejoicing at lowered weight of paper in house.
Wait. If mainspring still waving SPROING from shoulder blades, and if finished with Travis McGee, shift to Dick Francis or Ngaio Marsh (Colin Dexter too dark for present frame of mind).
When people ask, “Oh, great! Have you got a plot for the next one?” do not bite or snap. Tincture of time. Thyme?
Stare blankly at clean writing perch, silent laptop. Feel dim sense of obligation but no remorse, no impetus.
Day fourteen. Hmm. Note lack of interest in umpteenth mystery by sixties author. Put it down unfinished.
Wake at four with image of character, raising binoculars to see edge of pasture… What’s moving? Yes, what is moving, there in the grass?\ Feel shiver of suspense. Does character realize she’s in danger? Character now sees, just visible in the trees at the edge of the pasture, a pale face, immobile? no, sun glinting off rifle? no, a man wearing camo? no? no, camo. Instead, two men carrying a…wait, no, it’s a…
Feel sub-sonic wave disturb cranial lethargy. Wonder if brain has silently begun constructing options.
Make coffee, turn to laptop.
Helen Currie Foster is the author of the Alice MacDonald Greer mystery series. THE GHOST NEXT DOOR, fifth in the series, was released September 22, 2018.