Here’s one thing interesting and weird thing about being a writer: when you’re done with a project, it continues to have a life out there in the universe, while you sort of forget all about it.
(That’s all I can think about professionally: in my personal life I continue to spend a lot of time trying to master my new electric toothbrush, and wondering how and why a raccoon died on our lawn.) But meanwhile, out there in the big world, a musical I wrote seven years ago was just produced in New Zealand; I was interviewed this evening by a writer doing a nonfiction book about the science and cultural life of bedbugs, because of my horror novel about the little bastards a couple years ago; and I just got a long questionnaire from a doctoral candidate in Finland writing his dissertation on mash-up novels, because of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters from 2009.
And I don’t know if other writers feel this way, but I personally have this strange and almost uncanny emotional distance from all of these old projects. I am aware on an abstract level that the experience of writing them was intense—like the experience of writing anything you care about and want to do properly. But when I think back on them now, I feel only a vague warmth toward them, like they are friends from elementary school who I remember being pretty cool, but that’s about it. Probably to get oneself properly invested in each new project, it is necessary to let go of the fervency with which you were committed to the last ones.
Which is why it’s so pleasing to imagine the things still wandering around in the world, occasionally being encountered, so other people can get excited about them—even if only temporarily, for the two hours it takes to watch or the two weeks it takes to read.
I don’t have to be obsessed with them, once they’re done. I can be obsessed with the next thing, until it’s done.