My feelings about my own finished work change faster than the weather. This week I'm kind of ambivalent. The book is probably OK: my publisher said it was OK and I pretty much felt it was OK when I made the final changes a few months ago. Right? But the characters feel distant from me and my emotions are tied up elsewhere - with the new book I'm writing, and with the five or so future books I'm playing with in my head.
This distance is a good thing. If my experience last time is anything to go by, it's what I need in order to get through the shock to the system that comes with your very private fictional world being made public. Like Arthur in Hideous Creatures, I experience stress (and distress) very physically and intensely, and about two weeks before Hideous Creatures came out I felt my lungs close. My chest felt as though someone had closed a fist around it, and I had a very shaky doctor's appointment that went something like this:
Me: I can't breathe and I think I'm dying.
Doctor: Are you a student? It's probably exam stress.
Me: I'm not a student. And it can't be stress, it's definitely physical. And life-threatening.
Doctor: Why don't you take a hot bath, light some candles, and come back in a few weeks if you still feel this way?
Me: Can't I just have a quick MRI? Or some blood tests? Or you could refer me to-
Doctor: It's stress. Bye, Good luck in your exams.
By the time publication day came, I was breathing in little tiny gasps, and felt so ill that I almost called my publisher to say I couldn't come to the launch party. The morning after the launch party, my breathing went completely back to normal. It was stress.