Monday, June 18, 2012

Finishing a Novel

When a writer writes a novel, it has to end at some point. This point comes regardless of whether the writer wants it to or not. He or she finishes the first draft, only to get started on the grueling process of editing, re-editing and then editing again. Such is how it goes. In my opinion though, the first draft is what it really is. While editing is half of writing, the first draft to me is really the essence of writing. The joy of it. For two years, I wrote the first draft to my 772 page book The Face Behind the Mirror. Just last night, I wrote my last word of it. My baby has left me, never to return. Sure, I’ll edit it from time to time (seriously edit it. It needs a lot of work) but… It won’t be the same. I will never be a citizen of that world again but I will just be a traveler. A visitor. Ultimately, I will be an outsider to that world. 

It’s a strange feeling, ending a novel. Most of the time, it feels natural. It even is a happy feeling, one of relief and celebration. I got it done and it was one of the few novel ideas that ended up surviving! It is this way because I foresaw the ending long before it has come, and so I have prepared. It isn’t sad, because I’ll just jump on to the next idea I have and edit at the side.  

This is different, though. Two years has given me time to bond with this particular novel. I got to know each of the characters and understand them and feel for them. I grew close to the story and these characters, explored each intricacy of their life in a way I haven’t done with any other book. I kept predicting when the end of the book would come, but I couldn’t end it there. I even got sick of the book and just wanted it to end already but it seemed like it just wouldn’t. The book seemed endless. But… It has ended. The book has ended and now I feel mixed feelings inside.

Of course, now I can focus on different projects that I have. I’ll have less things to be able to deal with. In a way, I’m freed from the snare that a novel naturally entraps me in. That’s definitely a positive thing. A book sucks up a lot of time and energy by itself, and that kind of sucks when I have so many ideas floating around in my head. I already have an idea that could easily take its stead, although I'm hoping to finish my other projects before I deal with it.    

When I am able to deal with new projects, I will be able to deal with fresh ideas that will give me some of the greatest highs I receive as a writer instead of the stagnant ideas that often force me into the terrible terrain of writer's block. 

But, but... This particular phase in my life is over. There's a bittersweet feeling in knowing that part of my life is now gone and I am off to the next thing already. A lot has happened to me over the span of two years, and in certain spots of the novel, I can see my thinking and even the mood of the story change as well as they see certain things. It'incredible. One of the characters that I based my a former friend off of, for instance, totally changed in personality because of how my perception of her changed (from someone I admired, someone who I just really wanted to pay attention to me, someone I was seeing in a worse and worse light, someone I hated and now a generally good person who made a few selfish decisions). Did she really change? A little bit but not really. How I saw her was what changed. The ironic thing is that the story itself took place over two years, too.  

I invested so much time and energy and love to these characters. It will feel weird letting them go. And yet... I know that I've told all I've needed to tell. Ultimately, the time has come already.

Alas, my time with The Face Behind the Mirror is done. I will go on to bigger and better things soon enough.

The book has ended. This time has come. Now I just need to accept it.  

2 comments:

  1. Congrats on your book-finishing. I bet that The Face Behind the Mirror is a real masterpiece. I actually have part of the first draft on my computer, from when your computer was having issues last year at camp. If you want me to send it to you, I'd be happy to :) (It's a great start of a story, by the way.) I'm sorry that ending the novel is such a rip for you...I guess I've never really written anything that long, but I can understand how leaving it, or at least finishing the first draft (which, you're right, is the biggest part of it all, in terms of original writing and storytelling) is a dramatic experience. Maybe you can show me a version at camp? I'd like to show you a book that I completed this year for school, and had published. I'm editing it again, too, so I hope I get to show you the final, re-published version. (If you couldn't tell, I absolutely CAN'T wait to see you and get back to Blue Tree.) Best of luck in the editing process and with your future projects :)

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    1. Aw, you're so sweet! It certainly has a lot of things that need to be worked on, but that's alright. I can show it to you but I doubt you'll be able to read it all. I can't wait to see you at Blue Tree too and read your novella! I'm sooo excited!

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