Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | December 2, 2012

PMCS = Post Manuscript Completion Slump

In August, about a week before I took off for a three-month hiatus on the Down East Coast of Maine, my editor returned my novel Newfound Freedom. While at the cottage, my plan was to complete Patriot Apprentice. I had only seven or eight chapters to finish this second novel. During the five-day drive to the northeast from Alabama, completing this second book excited me. But gnawing my subconscious was Newfound Freedom. If I make the suggested revision, this first book would be done and ready to be tossed into the publication mill.  

Okay, do the revision on the first novel, I rationalized—can’t take long. Then I’ll continue Patriot Apprentice.

During the next eight weeks, I combined two chapters, rewrote scenes—one in particular, where Kathy, my editor, informed me that I had buried the same dead guy twice—selected more active verbs, tightened dialogue, corrected typos, and cut over 10,000 words.  Newfound Freedom now read smoothly.  The story flowed, the characters lived, and the conflict increased to its climax, as it should.  Wow! I had successfully completed writing a manuscript of “bookly” proportions. Out came the wine bottles.

Now what?  Get onto Patriot Apprentice. Yes. But thoughts of sitting at the computer and trying to get my characters moving again turned me off. And it wasn’t writer’s block. Hundreds of scenarios rattled around in my brain. They came, went, mixed with previous ideas, but none reached my fingertips, where I could translate brain waves into digitized characters on the computer screen. I was in a fabulous, scenic place—Maine. It was easier to sit, gaze at the bay, contemplate nature, plan my next photographic trip, and write about it on my blog.  What happened to Patriot Apprentice?  When it came to that novel, I fell into a “writer slump.”

Now being a creative writer, I asked my fictional shrink, “What’s goin’ on man?”

“You, m’ boy, have PMCS,” he said. “It usually follows the successful completion of a major writing project. It’s the enjoyment of the elation of being done—reaching la fin.”  

“How long will this non-productive slump continue?”

“Depends on the size of the manuscript you just finished.” He twirled a couple of long strands of hair around his ear. “PMCS is the exhaustion of one’s mental resources.  The bigger the project, the more time it takes for the glow of completion to dim.” He prescribed some short trips, spend time enjoying good food, wine, and friends, and avoid the computer. 

I followed his instructions—a good excuse to what I was already doing. But Jack, my protagonist in P.A., began again to talk to me, tell me his story. And his words were appearing on my computer screen. I was back on track. But I didn’t give up any of my other pleasures. I wrote in between them.

“Never forget,” my phantom shrink reminded, “your brain needs time to recycle.”

“Yes,” I said, sipping my wine, while pondering on the rocky coastline in front of me.

∫ ∫ ∫ ∫

© Copyright, Richard Modlin, 2012


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: