Wednesday, 16 February 2011

How it feels to write the last word

Having written the last word in my novel Sons of the Wolf, less than three days ago, despite it not really being the end  (for obviously now comes the editing) it has left me with a kind of feeling of deflation. Like the person who seeks spiritual enlightenment, disappointed when the moment comes and it fails to be accompanied by the customary sound of trumpets and flashes of ethereal light one imagines happens in these experiences,   I felt a sense of emptiness, the kind of feeling a mother gets when her offspring have flown the coup. To be honest, I don’t know what I thought I would feel like, but one thing is for sure, I was glad to wrote that last word, because I have never finished a novel before, and I had started a few, so to have actually written nearly 500 pages is quite an achievement, still, there is this damned feeling of Je ne sais pas porquois.
It took me a while to get to grips with it, well at least a couple of hours. It really hit me moments after I had closed the finished document on my computer and I got into my car and was driving to pick up my daughter from school. I suddenly realised I had tears in my eyes and felt really sad. Though not an unusual feeling for me (I am often emotionally incontinent for no reason), I wondered what on earth had brought it on and berated myself for being such a misery, after all, I had just achieved something that would have been highly improbable for me ten  years ago when I was in a very dark place.  But why wasn’t I joyously screaming from the rooftops? Then it dawned on me. I had started the grieving process.  My baby, my creation, my epic master-piece was fully developed. No longer an embryo, or foetus or infant or teenager, Sons of the wolf had now matured into a 500 computer page novel and like it or not, the end had arrived.
My friends all told me that this was quite a normal feeling, that I was not strange or going mad, or some sort of nutter (well that’s debateable) but something that a lot of writers experience.  Funny, because when I carry out academic assignments as a nurse, I have never felt that way about a piece of work, but obviously this is different. Ending my book after 5 years in the making, I suddenly realised that it had become like a person to me, a fully grown one at that and now, I was about to enter into a new relationship with it called editing. So, it’s not really yet over after all is it? At least not for some time anyway.