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?