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.  


Judith Arnopp said...

WEll done on finishing. The blues wont last. I really missed Harold when I finished Peaceweaver, it was almost like bereavement. I didnt really recover until I sat down to write The Forest Dwellers and fell in love with Tyrell instead - guess I am fickle :)

Helen said...

It's a common thing Paula, like saying goodbye to a dear friend. Even harder when you've had to kill your main character off.

One reason why I like my Jesamiah Acorne, hero of the Sea Witch Voyages.... he gets to live at the end of the story! *laugh*

Clement of the Glen said...

Paula,I had never realised that finishing a novel could have such an effect on the author. But you have supplied an amazing insight into how it can be like losing a limb!

How about your thoughts on a sequal after this one is edited!!

paulalofting said...

Hi Clement.I have definitely a sequel in linne and a third one after. The second book will lead them up the the battle of Hastings and then the third sees Wulfhere's son Tovi, fighting with his distant kinsman Hereward, in the seige of Ely but not before he has seen action with Eadric the wild and the men of the Silvatici, the wild men of the forest. Having survived Hastings, he is on a mission to avenge his lord Harold and seeks death out like a man on a suicide mission. But I dont want to say much more, but that is the plan.
Thanks for all your feedback and comments

Joyce DiPastena said...

Hi Paula! Your series sounds amazing. Congratulations on finishing your first novel! You are now no longer one who just talks about writing a novel. You have DONE IT, and that's more rare than you'd think. I know you feel sad now, but you've got an amazing journey still ahead. I wish you great joy in it!

Joyce DiPastena
Loyalty's Web and Illuminations of the Heart