The end of any writing project is an emotional time for me, and the level of that emotion marches in lockstep with the amount of time I’ve invested. Be it poem, short story, or novel, there is a point at which it’s time to say “goodbye.”
With novels, it can be a tough period to get through. As a kid, I was always labeled as “too sensitive.” I was the easy target for gibes and teasing. I’ve grown a tougher hide in recent years, but it’s just a façade. I still feel things deeply, and goodbyes are never easy.
So, last night, as I was writing the concluding scene of the main action of the fifth and final book in The Fallen Cloud Saga, it all crashed down on me, and I pretty much dissolved.
At the end of a poem, I can sit back and smile. At the end of a story, I think wistfully of what I’ve crafted. At the end of a novel, I usually grieve the separation and the loss of the characters whom I came to know intimately over the many months.
This is different. This is more than the end of a single novel; this is the end of a five book series. I have worked with these characters, pushed them through the difficult events of my plot, and watched them suffer, for over a decade. I not only know these people, I feel their every emotion as they experience them on the page. I know their dreams, their regrets, their secrets. At times, they have acted out, going places I did not foresee. At times, they have made suggestions, and I have listened to them. In short, these are more than characters to me now. They are friends. The are colleagues, and together we have built a great thing.
I realize how “woo-woo” such statements sound, and though fully aware that these characters are only creations of my imagination, they are tapped into parts of my mind that I cannot reach. Through them, my subconscious speaks. Through them, my dreams become real.
I began saying goodbye to them all last night, and felt the first terrible wrench of separation. It brought me low, but it is for the best. Soon, I will close the final chapter, wrap the epilogue, and raise a glass.
To absent friends.