The End – Saying Goodbye to a Story

Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net  by arztsamui
Photo Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
by arztsamui

by: Cindy Sproles

As I scanned through my Facebook notifications,  a post by my friend, Eddie Jones caught my eye. He had just turned in the final edits on book three of his three-book deal with Zonderkids.

Tomorrow morning I say good bye to Nick Caden. Finishing up the 3rd book in the Caden Chronicles series. I’ve never “finished” any series. There was always one more. But this one ends with the sadness of friend leaving for a trip from which he will never return. Authors talk about how characters cause us to cry and laugh. Saying good bye to Nick breaks my heart. Enjoy the rest of your life, buddy. We had some good times together. See you on the other side. ~ EJ

I paused, sighed and completely understood where he was coming from.  I recently completed a novel with a dear friend, Aaron Gansky. I loved the characters Aaron and I created  in this novel and I dreaded seeing the words “The End.”  It made me sad to think it was over.  Up to this point, I’d been an active part of these characters lives. I felt their pain, laughed with their humor, even kicked a few buckets when they were angry. I was, by all due rights, “invested” in them.

A few months prior, I’d finished the rewrite on a novel of my own. When that last wagon wheel turned and I saw my character walk away, I found myself…lost. I’d get up each day, turn my computer on and realize, there was nothing left to write. To me, in every sense of the word, it was like a death. My friend in whom I’ve invested so much, had gone her way and I was left behind to muddle through.

I’ve read books that drag me, not only into the life of a character, but into their heart as well. I fall in love with them, wish good things for them, even rebuke them under my breath when they do something stupid. That’s the joy and fun of reading  – getting sucked into the life of a character like a vacuum sucking dirt off the floor. You can’t fight the force of air that pulls you in and makes you an intimate part of the story. As a reader, I get to feel the punches of each character, but as the writer, I invent the punches. I feel them first in my imagination,  again as I bleed them onto the page, and a third time – after I step back, let it percolate, then revisit.

There is joy in completing a project – in telling a story from beginning to end. Setting the twists and turns, manipulating the words and thoughts of the characters into doing the unexpected.  For the writer, it’s emotionally draining, intoxicating (as Aaron says), even somewhat freeing. But when the story wraps and the final sentence hits the page – it’s bittersweet.

Writing has a circle of life just like us. Our story is born, it grows, rises to a  pinnacle, then is slowly deflates into nothing. It ends. What we have left are the memories of dreaming up a world that, for a time, gave us a place to hide and allowed us to be what we could never be in the real world.

This is the value in telling a good story. This is the mourning of saying goodbye to a character when the story is done.

This is the life of a writer – making up friends, living large through them for a short time, then sending them away.