Month Six Reflections: The Mourning Period

I found this several places today, and it just… fits. Only, for me, it’s a mourning period between writing novels. I don’t really know what anyone expects, but I imagine that it should be a relief to let go of the last project, to move on to a fresh story after a day or celebration for yet another novel written.

But I discover, as the year goes on, that instead I tend to have a day or several of melancholy. I feel sad, grumpy, mournful. I’m not done, I think. Those characters and I, we went through a war zone together (and the stories I tend to write, that’s actual war zones); the characters and I argued, we lived with each other, and we told a story together. Sometimes, we yelled and screamed and couldn’t find a way to go on, and then we would, and we went amazing places.

I fall in love with my characters. We just go through so much together in one month. It gets hard to let go, I want to dive back in. (Reading fiction books, I have been known to close a book, turn it over and start again, just to have it not end yet.)

And last month, after a grueling 12,000 words that last day, my characters and I created a special bond. I still dream about them, and I miss writing them, even though they posed the biggest challenge to me yet. I find myself listening to absurd amounts of Adele and feeling wistful, even sometimes wanting to burst out in tears, and then I start to laugh at my capacity for useless drama, and I press the repeat on my iPod for Adele’s playlist.

It takes me a few days to move on and get writing again.

I don’t know if there is much to be learned from this. I just know it happens, and as I become a better writer with each novel, the characters are born more fully-formed from my skull and the plots are much more elaborate, and it only takes me deeper in, takes up more of my thoughts and dreams. And it gets harder to extract myself from one world and move on to another.

I find myself envious of those who are out there working on one novel, who have all the time in the world to spend with their characters, falling in love with them, giving them quirks and baggage to work around, love stories to blunder through, evil things to slay, funny ideas to have. I’ll be there eventually, I know. And really, I would not trade what I am doing now for any experience in Earth. But, I look forward to being able to spend quality time with one story and see it through.

I wonder what kind of melancholy I’ll have if any of these novels are published. Will I look on, sad that I no longer have anything to teach these people born of my heart and head, that they are all grown up and ready to be seen and lived through by whomever likes the publisher’s choice of dust jacket?

It’ll probably be like a funeral for me. A happy, overly dramatic, all-consuming funeral.

I hope Adele comes out with a new album by then.


3 thoughts on “Month Six Reflections: The Mourning Period

  1. This is so heartbreakingly eloquent! I makes me think of an eulogy but I can hear the hope and the fight as well.

    I am so envious of your connection with your characters and the depth that you’ve discovered as the year has progressed. It’s difficult to maintain, I truly don’t know how you’ve done it. Our experiences have been so different but I’m also struggling with 6 stories from last year. Only 3 of them are stand-alone works, the other 3 are part of a series and that’s equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.

    You’ve given yourself a precious gift. There are characters and stories out there that one day may develop further. Never discount a spin-off from one “seed” novel- you know that character that is so full of life they’re practically jumping off the page? What’s their deal?

    The hard part is getting started. Now that you have something concrete, where will it take you next? Be sad for a bit, creating something then having to let it go is an emotional process, but be excited for what comes next.

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