Writing

All Stories Have An End

And I just reached mine.

I didn’t expect to be this sad, but I am.  I originally expected to be elated – and I am that, too – but the sadness came as a surprise, an unwelcome knock on my front door when I wasn’t expecting any visitors or package deliveries.  I didn’t even have any Amazon Prime orders pending. 

But the knock came nonetheless.

How bizarre that I was just reading about this issue in The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass.  I had finished the section on Third-Level Emotions, loving his point that a characters’ unexpected reaction to something can have a far more profound effect on a reader than a normal, first-level emotion.  Did something bad happen to a character’s friend?  Is that character Angry?  Yes?  Okay, but on a deeper level is he somehow excited, or relieved about something?  Focus on that.  We know he is angry already.  An exploration of his excitement or relief can be much more memorable and gripping, can reveal far more about this character than the more obvious reaction can.

I read that section of the book on Sunday.

Then, yesterday, I finished the final rewrite of my book (quick CHEER!!!  WAHOO, go DAVID, you are the BEST, WOW what an AMAZING accomplishment).  I was ecstatic, of course, and proud, and relieved, and exhilarated at the prospect of sending query letters to every single agent I can possibly find.  But I also got punched by a third-level emotion that affected me far more powerfully than anything else.

Sadness.  A bit of melancholy (though I knew the reason) and a twist on my joy that made it feel almost bittersweet.  It was only while rewriting the final few chapters of the manuscript that I realized how incredibly attached I’ve become to this story and these characters.

Whenever I’ve read similar sentiments expressed by other authors in the past I’d always thought they were being a bit melodramatic, or at least over-exaggerating.  “That would never happen to me!”  But here we are.  I’m so bizarrely, inexplicably, annoyingly sad to be finishing these characters’ stories, to be setting them down so I can finally send them out into the world.

I’ve already started to miss them – they’ve been my mind’s constant and stalwart companions for so long.  No matter what else was going on they were always there, and now I’ll be moving onto something new, fresh, and different.  Another story with characters that I haven’t met yet – who aren’t my friends yet.  Such a weird feeling to have, right?

I guess I’m kind of weird?  Idk.

Looking forward, I know querying will be chaos.  It’ll take a lot of time, but the prospect of actually sending this story to literary agents will be novel (pun intended wow nice one) and thrilling, as will the thought of getting actual responses.  Even though I’m prepared for most of them to be rejections, I’m hopeful that at least a handful will show interest, and that one of them will want to represent me.

On a more positive note, I’m itching to begin this next book, too.  Plotting, fleshing out characters, arc, theme, growth, method… it’s going to be a wild time.  There’s a lot I want to accomplish with this next story, and I’m excited for the work to begin.

So anyway, that was just a quick update I wanted to share.  I’ve been so single-minded about finishing the final rewrite of this book that I’ve been a bit quiet.  I’m ready to start shouting again now.  What a time to be alive, right?

Has anyone else out there felt a strange sort of sadness at finishing a project, or was it all happiness and elation for you?

19 comments on “All Stories Have An End

  1. Now you know why people write series, they can’t bear to say good-bye to their friends!

  2. mymindlessdrivel

    There’s an old homily that kind of applies here: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.

    You don’t have to stop loving those old friends as you set off to meet new ones. In fact, you may meet them again sooner than you expect as often publishers/editors want changes to a story before it goes out into the world.

    Either way, congrats on the accomplishment, and onward to success in the next arena.

  3. Ya, I get that. Not weird. How long have you been writing this thing?

  4. Yes, my characters become my friends. It’s normal (I think) to miss them.

  5. I am so so so chuffed for you to finally have reached your goal and finished your story! I remember the last time I published one of my Short Stories on amazon, or even here on my WordPress blog – it was exhilarating to wait for responses (which never came, but anyway) after such a long time being with the characters and the story, and sadness that it was over with them. It’s normal, though, so I think you’re as normal as all of us 😀

    On another note: I have all my fingers crossed for you that soon, when your story has met with hopefully a lot of agents, that it will blow them away, that among maybe a few rejections, there will be that ONE special reaction that gets it published. Me personally, I can’t wait for the day I get to see your book on amazon or the book shelf of my local german bookstore, knowing that I sort of followed your progress in becoming this amazing writer for years, and one time even have got a critic/helping comment of you on one of my Short Stories, which I will forever keep in my mind. So I wish you nothing but success and good sales, and I seriously can’t wait to read this project of yours!

    Kindest greetings from Germany and Happy Holidays!

  6. Wow, thank you so much! I have to admit I’ve never been brave enough to publish any of my stories on Amazing yet, so kudos to you for that, that’s amazing. And yes I do remember reading that Short Story! I hope you keep on writing them!

    Hopefully this crazy journey keeps moving forward and this book finds a home that will send it out for everyone to read. Happy Holidays 🙂

  7. I know exactly how you feel… which is probably why I brought my characters back for another story (which swirled around in my head while writing the first one). They’re a part of you (maybe even a lot like you), and it’s natural to feel some separation sadness. Letting go isn’t easy but it’s vital so you can move on to the next fabulous novel. And the next after that. Letting go, putting your work out there in the world, is necessary for you as a writer to move on, to grow. Kudos for finishing and best of luck with your queries. Remember, the self-publishing world is wide open and always an option if your story doesn’t get picked up by an agent. Refer to the latest copy of Writer’s Digest for query information (agents, how to write the letter, etc.). And you’ll get to revisit the story and characters during the editing process; you just might not like the part where you have to rewrite certain scenes or character experiences but go with the flow. The experts (editors and their staff) know how to turn your book into something people will buy. Best of luck in the new year!

    • Sorry for the late response – but you are so right! I wish I had decided to make this book a series, but I planned it as a standalone with a very definitive end. The next book I just started on is the first in a series, though, woo!

      I’m still deep on the query process hoping for some good news soon, but I would definitely welcome the editing process. I know that with big publishing houses stories can change quite a lot and the actual process of working with an editor can go on for quite a while – I’d look forward to getting back together with these characters again!

      Thanks so much for the well wishes 🙂

      • You have to write the story that’s in you…don’t worry if it’s a series or not, even though that’s popular right now. Tell the stories you need to tell and let the pieces fall where they may. I refuse to pander to what’s popular and my fiction book is very different from what’s out there. Doesn’t mean it’s not good enough, just means a different segment of people are reading it. Crossing fingers on your success. Keep us updated!

      • “You have to write the story that’s in you.” That’s one of the most amazing, quotable things I’ve read on this blog. I have to write it down somewhere visible in my office.

      • Thanks! Too often we worry about what readers want; I’m of the mind that I have to write what I have to write. Don’t let others forge your path as a writer; otherwise, you’ll always be a slave to their whims. Right?

      • And your work will never be as creative as it could otherwise be! I don’t want to be another derivative writer following other peoples’ trends

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