I finished a book today. Whew! Ninety-five-thousand and some odd words. Four pounds, six ounces of printer paper. A gazillion hours at the computer.
In many ways, it’s like having a baby. Months and months of planning, pondering, and nurturing go into it. There are snack attacks. Missed nights of sleep. A few freakouts and meltdowns along the way.
After typing the last few lines, I got up from my computer–feeling a bit numb–and emerged from the cave I’ve been living in these past few weeks to go tell my husband the news.
“I did it! I’m finished!”
“Great!” he said, his relief palpable. (When I spend a lot of time in the cave, I can be a bear to live with, it’s true.) “So, is it good? Are you happy with it?”
I blinked at him. “I don’t know.”
“But you’re really done?”
“I think so.” (Wavering now)
“Well, did you write ‘The End’?”
See, here’s the thing. I never write that. I think I might have written it on my very first book, but I don’t anymore because it doesn’t feel like The End. Not really. Not enough to type the words down there after the last few lines leave my fingertips. There’s still so much left to do. So much left to change, and shape, and polish. So many revisions, edits, and copyedits.
But that isn’t the only reason I can’t bring myselft to write those two little words.
I thought about explaining to him how a book is like a child, in some ways. And even when you hit those milestones, such as birthdays, and first days of school, and graduations (I’m projecting here, we’ve got some years left before then) you’re never really finished. I don’t see myself dropping my kids off at college and saying, “Well, that’s done. The End!” But I didn’t explain any of that because, well, he’s eaten a lot of frozen pizza lately and been a very good sport about this deadline, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that in my heart, I’m not really done yet.
I suppose I have a hard time letting go. I used to get weepy giving away baby clothes. I hate funerals. (Who doesn’t?) And those curbside scenes at the airport? Forget it. I determinedly avoid them. I’m not good at saying goodbye, so I skip it whenever I can. When it comes to my books, it’s especially tough for me to close the curtain on things. Maybe that’s one reason some of my favorite characters pop into future books for a visit every once in a while. I miss them! It probably sounds crazy, but when you spend months and months conversing with someone in your head, it can be difficult to let them go. It’s hard to write The End.
Can anyone relate to this? Maybe even simply as a reader who hates to close a wonderful book? Yes? No?
I should probably sign off now before soemone starts to worry that I’m hearing voices in my head (which, truthfully, I do on a frequent basis. Occupational hazard…)
Do you have a hard time writing The End? Saying goodbye? Any coping strategies to share? Or maybe you will share a book ending that moved you so much, it stands out in your mind months or even years later. I’m all ears today.
After all, my book is finished! (pretty much) I’ve come out of the cave! And in celebration, I’m giving away a signed copy of WHISPER OF WARNING, which was one of my favorite book endings. For a chance to win, just leave a comment!