Monday, June 20, 2016

On Writing and Letting Go

A few weeks ago, I sent my manuscript off to the editor and then sat back and stared at my computer screen with a sigh. Usually, when I'm finished with a story, writing the words The End is a relief. It's like an 'Okay, I did it' because contrary to what I thought when I first starting writing, you never (or I never) feel like 'yeah, I got this. I'll kick out another book'. Not to say I'm insecure. I'm not. I'm just grateful to be able to do it every single time.

So the sigh... This was the first book where the moment I wrote the words The End, I felt a little sad. 

While you're writing your story, the characters live only for you. Only for you. Stop and think about that for a moment. It's an amazing thing. It's not even only that they belong to me. I mean, they do, sort of, or at least they've trusted me to tell their stories, but they EXIST not only because of me but also FOR me. I feel like I know them better than I know anyone else in the world. 

In the case of this particular book coming up, it wrote it faster than I usually do, and it's also the longest book I've written. The idea had taken root a long time ago but I'd not yet been able to put the story together. I even knew the hero and the heroine's names from the start, and I felt like —once I hit send— they were no longer only my own. Maybe I just wasn't ready to give them up. 

That feeling is strange, and when I hit publish on a book, it's even greater. It's not quite a sense of loss. I don't mourn. I know other people will read the books and others will get to know these people and their stories and hate them and love them and scream at them, but as soon as I hit publish, they simply don't belong to me anymore. They no longer exist only for me and I let them go and I can never really get them back, not like it was when I was writing them and it was just us. 

It's such a strange thing and I wonder if other writers feel this same way. 

That all said, one of the most wonderful things after I've published a book is a reader messaging me about a character, asking a question, wanting to know more about their future, or just telling me how much they loved a story. I am pretty sure I can never get enough of that! 



10 comments:

Megan Michaels said...

Oh my goodness, you said that perfectly! That's exactly how I feel. With both of my series, I loved knowing these people, being consumed by them. But once they're out in the public, we see them through the reader lense--it changes the view. Thank you for putting into words what I feel with every book, but couldn't describe.....

Jane Henry said...

I completely understand. I felt very much this way with my latest book. These characters I knew for a while as well, and I wrestled with the desire to get them *just right.* Would anyone be able to see them the way I did? No one could love them as much! It was hard letting them go, and I felt a sense of loss over it. I haven't felt that with every book, but felt it keenly with my last.

Livia Grant said...

Wow, you really captured something so hard describe, Natasha. Like you, each book has varying degrees of this, but with all of them I've sort of treasured that private, alone time I have with them before the world gets to meet them. The closest analogy I can come up with for non-authors is that feeling after you give birth. I loved every minute of my pregnancy, even the uncomfortable times, because for those nine months, my baby and I were alone. He was with me 24x7. I was always thinking of him. Others knew of him, of course, but for that small window of time, he was mine alone. Giving birth was like our author's'the end'. We are so happy to see our baby and introduce them to the world, but it changes everything. We have to share them now, and we lose control over them. We have to stand by while others judge them (reviews). People joke about letting their'babies go,' but it is no joke. As a mother, the parallels are endless. Great post.

Natasha Knight said...

Megan, you are right about the 'reader sense'. It does change the way you view a story. And Livia, I think this is what you're saying too.

Jane, me too on this not being the same with every book but those I have it with are just different for me. Can't even tell you why, but it just is.

Maisy Archer said...

I feel that way, and I think the comparisons to motherhood are really apt! I know my characters, heart and soul, the way I know my kids. I worry about whether I've done right by them before sending them out into the world. I wonder whether the world will be kind to them. It's been my work and my privilege to being them into the world, and when I set them loose they will (and must!) go on to become something a little different for every person who encounters them, and they'll never be wholly mine again. It's wonderful, but bittersweet.

Jaye Peaches said...

I have those feelings towards my characters too, although not for all my books. When it came to my series, I'd quite happily have written about those two for many more books to come. I haven't published all the stories relating to them, because I feel I own then still and I don't want to let go yet. Moving on to the next project helps me let go for most - so get writing!

Cara Bristol said...

I often do feel a sense of loss when I finish the book, but not because they don't belong only to me, but because I feel like I am saying goodbye to them forever. It's like they're moving away. I can read their story, but I won't be able to spend time with them anymore.

But if you write a series, you can....

Natasha Knight said...

Maisy, they really are like our kids. I used to say that but didn't really think of it, yo know?

Jaye, yes, it does help to move to the next project and who knows what is yet to come!

Cara - you are ever the optimist my friend! Yes, you're right!!

Roz said...

Hi Natasha, great post and as a non-author interesting to read how it feels sending your characters out into the world. I can understand, also the point about the reader having a different perspective. Love the comparison to motherhood too, though I'm not a mother either lol

Hugs
Roz

Casey McKay said...

Your post is so right! I totally get that. But I also feel like my characters never leave me. Even if I never write about them again, they pop up in my head and visit me once in a while. I don't think they ever stop talking.