When the end is just the beginning…
Today is momentous for me. I finished my first draft of House of Scarabs and typed “The End”. That doesn’t mean the book is finished, far from it actually. What it means is the story is now fully committed to paper. From here on I don’t write story, I polish it. I tweak it, iron out the errors and inconsistencies. I work, with my editor, to take a good story and hopefully turn it into a great story. That’s my aim anyway.
The characters have become dear old friends.
Still it’s a very emotional day. It’s been 5 years in the making and has been a constant during a time where my life has had few, if any, constants. The characters have become so dear to me, not figments of my imagination but dear old buddies that I hang out with most days. It’s hard to say goodbye to them - even though I already know there will be a second book in the series with many of the same characters. Still today felt like a momentous day - like that feeling you had when you were leaving school. You knew you’d hang out with your friends again but that somehow it would never be quite the same.
Writing can be excruciating
I have found the last week emotionally harrowing as I slowly brought the book to its natural conclusion. I spent hours sniffling as my friends struggled through great hardships simply because I was ordering them to. Today was hardest I proper-cried today, the type of dripping nose, red rimmed eyes sobbing normally reserved for relationship breakups. I really don’t know how several of the scenes came to be, they certainly weren’t in my story outline and I don’t remember writing them. I truly think the characters wrote the end of this book. Ellie, my main character, despairing of my terse prose, jumped out and took over. The results were more than I could have dreamt of and so much more emotional charged than I’d intended.
I mourned today. I cried. I sobbed. I shouted at and hated myself for the torment I’d created.
Am I normal?
I reached out to a group of authors I know on Facebook and asked “Am I normal? Should writing be this hard? Should you finish the day feeling you’ve lived through the emotional trials of your characters?”
“Of course,” they responded. “YES!” they screamed. “It’s only by feeling the characters pains and sorrows that an author can change a story from black and white words on a page to real people. It’s the author’s anguish that breathes life into the characters.” WOW - heavy, I thought, Marketing wasn’t this hard!
But when you come to think of it that makes total sense. If I’m not feeling it how can my readers?
Tonight’s for celebrating
So tonight's for celebrating. I've written a book 80,413 words. I have a nice glass of wine and I’m sitting writing this post because I can’t help thinking that if I write this tomorrow a lot of the emotional truth will be polished away. Tonight - right now, after a glass of vino this is how I truly feel.
So it’s the end and just the beginning. Tomorrow, after a celebratory trip to IKEA with my sister, I’ll buckle down and start the editing. I’m a tidy writer and by that I mean I write slowly but concisely, so my edits although still huge will be less than writers who sprint through the first draft. Still I expect it to take a month or so. Now I’m off to fill my glass which appears to have sprung a rather large leak…