I finished writing Night Legions last night. The victory is significant, but it’s overshadowed by feeling I had not anticipated. In the pit of my stomach I have an uncanny sense of sadness. I can’t quite explain it, not with words. But much like the last night before vacation ends or the last bite of your favorite cake, delight is mixed with heartache.
More so than ever before when writing a novel, I am in mourning.
For four books I have grown to love my characters. They are bits of my soul on a page helping me dissect my emotions and unravel the inner workings of who I am. Last night, one of the characters, a cast member who had been with me since the beginning didn’t survive the finale. I can’t discuss the particulars for fear of giving away the plot, but I allowed character’s unresolved issues to be sorted out. For the first time since I started writing, I debated on correcting the scene and allowing them to live.
It’s twenty-four hours since this horrific scene played out. I miss them. For three years they’ve been a part of my life with almost daily encounters. I’ve watched them grow and they’ve survived my bumbling prose, editors, and even readers. Together we’ve survived the cruelest critics. I sat down tonight to start another chapter and I realized this character no longer had a place on the page. They’d be remembered or perhaps see the page through a flash back, but their journey had come to an end.
Not to get weirdly metaphysical about it, but this year death has been on the forefront of my mind. I’ve withstood two suicides and the death of once close and personal friend. I have never “dealt” with death. I won’t get into expressing my personal beliefs, but being able to detach and view the situation from a scientific standpoint has always helped. Now, here I am with my innards tied in knots over a fictitious character. I ponder if all creators feel this way? Does an artist mourn the selling of their work? After years working on a painting, I imagine there’d be an emotional bond. The pattern of preparing to paint, the act itself, and even the security that develops from the repetition vanishing over night.
Would the artist mourn?
There will be new characters. There may even be characters that are derived from this one. However, for several years now, I found I’ve had the ability to interact with this figment of my imagination as if it were real. Tonight, I go to bed thinking of them. I’ve had the opportunity to watch them grow from innocent to courageous and I enjoyed every step of the way. May readers discover the amazing talents they brought to my novel.
Tonight, I mourn. Tomorrow I create.