Writing when it’s time to say goodbye

AKA Saying Goodbye to Cherished Characters. The most difficult part of writing a book for me is when you reach the point where you must start saying goodbye to the characters.  I suppose it wouldn’t be so difficult if I didn’t fall in love with each and every one of them, even the tiny insignificant characters are difficult to let go.  But that point when the story is told, the drama unfolded, mysteries solved, questions answered and it’s time to say goodbye is so heartbreaking for me.  I’ve lived in their world, been a part of their life and watched then grow and develop.  I’ve carried them around in my head for so long they’ve become part of me and I consider them part of my family.  I can’t imagine not walking around with them always in my mind.

I suppose it would be easier if I was writing a series where the same cast of characters would continue on and I’ve thought very often about doing that but the simple truth is we say goodbye to people all the time.  People in our lives change jobs, move to other cities, states and countries, change because their worlds change and shift in and out of our life.  And of course people die.  It never becomes easy to say goodbye.

I suppose it’s the reason I like to write epilogues.  I want to know that their lives go on without me.  That good things happen to them in the future even when I’m not there to witness it.  I also think the reason I want to share my stories with the world is so that the characters can live on in other people’s imaginations too.  I suppose that’s some kind of afterlife for a fictional character.

I had to kill off a character in one of my stories and I still cry for him sometimes.  I still miss him.  I wrote the scene leading up to it and cried, cried when he died, then cried again as I worked on the remainder of the book because I missed having him always in my head.  I do and don’t recommend it.  It’s a great growth experience as a writer but it’s devastating to the soul to kill off a beloved character.

So today I have to write the last chapter of my current book and although I know there will be happy endings and wonderful surprises yet to discover, I’m sad because it means an end.  It also means a new beginning and another story waits to begin.  B


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