I was reading this essay by a novelist who got really depressed when she finished her novel because she had expected that it would have given her a sense of happiness, a sense of freedom and completion. But no. Instead she felt empty and burst into tears driving down the highway.
I felt something like that after publishing "The Silver Reindeer." I didn't get that writer's high I was expecting. Not even when I finished the final draft and put the last touch on the painting for the cover.
Achievement is not happiness.
There is no end to the string. It's a continuous thread that may or may not meet itself somewhere on the other side of the universe and form a circle. And even if it does, I may not be around to see it.
I tell myself (and you, dear reader), if you want to paint a painting, there is no goal. There is no end point to be achieved. It's an experience, something to enjoy deeply in the moment, an experimental effort that may or may not find a pleasing place to stop. You might say, okay, let me stop here before I screw it up. Or you might say, hold on - I think I'm going to start over. Or you might just say, "Cool." Stop and have a drink, and admire it where it is, in all its unfinished glory.
As for the books, the poems, the stories, instead of seeing each one like a little mountain of endless tasks, why not enjoy the process again? Read them over again just for fun, and not pick away at every phrase and paragraph?