How to move through liminal grief, post completion
I have various mental scripts that I have to run and re-run. They work. They don't work. I rejigger them. I forget them, and have to write a new script for the same situation. Some scripts:
I have written the poem. I honor it by offering it to the world. When or whether anyone else gets behind it (publishes it), is a separate thing.
Showing a poem to others helps give me perspective on the poem, whether or not any comment on it is made. Sometimes that change of perspective leads me to change the poem. It could also remind me how much I like it.
Not having a poem taken up (after many attempts) tells me that the poem is doing things other than what editors want to see. Maybe my kind of thing is out of fashion, or has yet to come into fashion. Editors really do want to publish what fits with what they already like.
Even published poems are little seen. Sometimes I think the poems that have been repeatedly rejected have had more readers than poems immediately accepted. Editors are readers too.
That’s a great topic. And yes, I think grief is the right word, although perhaps a grief without an easily located source, making it all the more baffling.
I’ve experienced what you describe more often with work than with my personal writing: the is-that-all-there-is or it-doesn’t-feel-the-way-I-thought-it-would feeling. And “knowing” that the feeling will eventually abate doesn’t help much either.
However, it’s possible this state reflects a ratcheting up of skills and ambition that’s occurred without our knowledge, an expansion of view, of possibility. That might be something to welcome, if so, or investigate to see what’s there.
But when does the feeling become actual writer’s block or even a period of depression? That would be a concern. And how would one know?
Some people may benefit from “overstimulation” (dancing? loud music?). Not sure I would be too prescriptive about activities during the in-between time, although some of those things have undoubtedly been useful to other poets. Just thinking about poems written after a museum visit, I can think of examples by Auden, Miller Williams, Rilke, and Jared Carter.