Journal

Endings: Saying Goodbye to Old Friends

There are times when I put down a book and even if the story has ended happily, I feel bittersweet. You live with the characters in a story for a week, a month, a series. They love and you love. They cry and you cry. It’s sometimes such an intimate thing, that when it’s over, it can be like saying goodbye to a friend that never knew you.

I started a fiction writing website years ago with a great bunch of friends. Together we created a world from scratch, dreamed up the cultures, the settings, and the characters that inhabited it. Now we’ve all moved on to other things.

Yesterday I wrote the last post and tied up the loose ends of a  story that’s been waiting patiently for a conclusion for more than a year. As I read backwards to re-orient myself, the characters began to take on that telltale spark of life. Writing the last post was easy, I knew how everyone would talk and act. It was like meeting old friends again.

And I’m a little sad.

Even if we create them… our characters can take on lives of their own sometimes. I like to imagine they keep on living, and loving, and adventuring even when I am no longer writing them.

Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, or maybe I’m just odd? 🙂

Oh yes, I did kill off a character or two in the process. I guess I’m just a little bit evil too.

7 Comments

  1. As a reader of books, I can definitely attest to this reaction. I think it’s normal. When one of my favorite characters died in the “Dragonlance” series, it was a really heart-wrenching experience for me (okay, I was young…). Likewise when the series ended (although nothing is truly ended that is owned by a conglomerate, but for me, at that time, it had ended).

    I’ve never had the experience of bringing a novel series or extended story which I wrote to an end, so I’m not sure how that would affect me… With short stories, it’s a little different for me, at least. Instead of feeling sad to leave the charactes behind, I feel proud for finishing their story and making it work.

    1. That death in the Dragonlance series was a particularly moving moment. I have to admit it too. I think I was still a teen when I was reading it. After that, though I did read a few of the other books in the world, it was never the same again.

      Hmm I only rarely get that feeling when working on a short story. Maybe it’s the time span involved? Usually finishing a short story is a relief, like a breath exhaled. 🙂

      1. I agree about the other books in Dragonlance… I read several but it was never quite the same.

        Maybe you’re right about time… for me, I have to go through so many drafts, and redo it so often… I still spend a lot of time with a short story. Then again, my short stories are often just this side of novella length. (5,000 words is really short for me, and I’ve only done that a few times; most end up in the 10k range.)

  2. When I finished writing Twenty-Somewhere (my web series about 3 twenty-something best friends) I… I can’t even explain what I was feeling. It was a good feeling, but there was some bittersweet in there. Some “I can’t believe it’s over…” Some “Is it really over, though?” Some “Omigodomigodomigod!”

    Finishing is amazing.

    (So I can only imagine what publishing feels like… :P)

  3. I know exactly how I feel. Whether they are characters I have written, or someone else’s to whom I have become particularly attached, when it’s time to put them down, I always suffer from separation anxiety. I’m currently in the middle of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and refuse to crack open the next one until the latest book comes out in paperback to make it last longer. And talk about not being able to let go of my own characters … I’ve been working on the same novel for ten years!

    I feel bad for my children I have yet to have. If I’m this bad about people within pages, never mind my actual babies …

    1. I’ve currently just finished the first Outlander book and I know what you mean! I was racing towards the last pages, but I also didn’t want to reach it. I’m almost afraid to start book 2 and see what terrible things come between Claire and Jamie. I know it will all work out in the end but…

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