Finishing a Novel and Letting It Go

Finishing and Letting Go are Not the Same Things.

So much of writing a novel is about beginning it – plotting, character exploration. Beginnings are optimism incarnate. But finishing has a distinct flavor too, a bittersweet tang.

Today I finished novel number three. Really finished. Drafting, spelling and grammar checking, fixing sequence errors, sending it to the editor, fixing all the sequence, grammar and spelling errors I missed the first time, the second time, the third time.

I knew I needed an editor but until I worked with one, I had no idea how sharp eyed and persistent editors have to be. Or maybe they aren’t all sharp eyed, but mine is.

Waiting For You is the best writing I have done so far. And now that the story is complete, I feel like I should be celebrating but somehow I’m not there yet.

Because part of finishing a manuscript is saying goodbye to your characters – letting them go.

It’s true Aidy and Max may return as side characters in a subsequent novel, but the part of their journey which I was the first to witness is concluded. Which leaves a kind of emptiness in a place they filled. As though one heard a voice, turned around, and found no one there.

I feel this same sense of wistfulness, sometimes, when I finish reading someone else’s writing. And if I do, I know those characters will stay with me, will speak their minds when I least expect it, not so much a haunting as a comfortable inner presence. I think that defines good writing.

So as I set my own characters free to roam about the world of fiction, I wish the same for them – that they should live on in the hearts and minds of their readers, distinct voices and distinct personas. I’m not sure an author can ask for more or better than that.

Rose Grey has written three romance novels and is hard at work on a fourth. If you liked this post, come visit the rest of the blog at Hot Pursuit and Not As Advertised are available as ebooks and as paperbacks online.