Friday, July 25, 2008

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

This morning while I was trying to work toward the end of If You Can’t Stand The Heat… I remembered a conversation I had with a friend right after I finished Romeo, Romeo. We went to see a romantic comedy and after the movie, as the credits rolled, we dissected it. My friend thought the movie should have ended well before it did. He said that dragging out the ending was a fault he found in many books and movies, and then asked me, as a writer, why I thought that happened.

I knew exactly why writers have a hard time ending their stories. We don’t want to lose the characters we’ve created, nurtured, and loved. Our characters become a huge part of a writer’s life. If we were to keep a relationship with our characters after the book was finished, we’d be considered insane. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

I’m closing in on the end of If You Can’t Stand The Heat… and I’m getting that familiar sense of loss that I get every time I end a book. I’ve spent the last six months in my characters’ lives and heads. I know their life stories. I’ve laughed with them and cried with them, heck, I’ve even gotten drunk with them, and soon, I’m going to have to say goodbye.

When I received the galley proofs for Romeo, Romeo last month, I knew I had a one-week turnaround. I jumped back into Romeo, Romeo with both feet, and I was happy to be hanging with Nick and Rosalie again. I’d missed them terribly. I read Romeo, Romeo three times that week and when I turned in my final edits, I was finished. That was the last time I would be with those characters. I gathered up all of my Romeo, Romeo files and put them in a box, and I swear I felt as if I was at a funeral.

Writers care about their characters--when I finish writing my book, the relationship with my characters ends. I always feel I’ve lost a dear friend, and saying goodbye doesn’t get any easier.

As I prepare myself to say goodbye to Mike and Annabelle, the only bright side I see is that when I start my next book in the Domestic God series, I might have them drop by for a little visit. Maybe Nick and Rosalie too.

12 comments:

  1. So true! I hate saying goodbye but especially to my characters. They're my babies, my friends, my confidants. I know everything about them, and often, they know everything about me. Even rewrites aren't such a bad thing because we get to be a part of their lives one more time.

    I hope you toasted to Nick and Rosalie on their new life together, and you'll do the same for Mike and Annabelle. From here, they're on their own with lives of their own to lead. Don't worry, Mom; they'll be fine!

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  2. O-o-o-o-oh!

    I know exactly what you mean.

    I'm squeezing in under my deadline for the WIP (working title: SEALed With a Promise.) Letting go of Emmie and Do-Lord is every bit as hard as saying good-bye to Jax and Pickett.

    If anybody knew how real these people become to us...

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  3. I love my characters when I am writing and it is hard to say good bye, but I think I am a bad mother. I like to see my babies fly because I always have another brood waiting for attention. lol
    So there is a sneaking little part of me that is happy to wave bye bye when they take wing.
    I, like you, do love that last revisit in final edits, though my heart always beats a little too fast for fear I find a big boo boo.
    Thought provoking post, enjoyed it very much.

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  4. So true, Robin, but guess what? You'll get them back again when Romeo, Romeo and IYCSTH come out in the stores! I know you're going to have to read it at LEAST once in book form! :)

    I, for one, can't wait to read them that way!

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  5. Robin,

    Like you, I get deeply attached to my characters. They live with my family and me for months. When my husband and daughter get home, they ask me how James and Rebecca are doing. I appreciate that support and understanding.

    I like what Judi said. You'll get to see Nick and Rosalie again--in print. They are going out into the world, and their story will live on. I liken it to the coming separation when my daughter heads off to college in a year. I've done all I can to help her be the best she can be. When she leaves the nest and my nuturing, I'll experience the joy of seeing how she does out in the world. I'm sure you'll have fun watching your "firstborn" make its debut as it goes from your hands to your readers.

    And Michele, I like what you said about quickly immersing ourselves in our next wips. That way the pain of ending the relationships with one set of characters is minimized as we get to know another.

    Congrats, Robin, on the upcoming release of Romeo, Romeo.

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  6. Too true, Robin!

    I think this is why readers love series so much-- we get to have those earlier characters back for a little while. Good characters seem so real, it's hard to believe that their story isn't going on, just as our own lives are.

    But I think I'm a little like Michele-- I kinda look forward to pushing my "babies" out of the next and getting to know the next brood. Hey, it's like motherhood, but with a faster payoff! (Not to mention, no huge weight gain, no painful deliveries, no potty training...)

    Laura :)

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  7. Yep, I miss them, too--which is one nice thing about a series because you can bring them back!

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  8. Ohhhh, Robin, I so know what you mean! After my first two or three books, I went into a DEEP funk that I later came to realize was a mourning period as I said goodbye to the people I'd come to love so much. I've found that if, when I'm about 3/4 through the WIP, I start something new, it helps with the funk. Channeling that creative energy into a new set of characters helps with the parting from the others. Seems to help keep the funk to a minimum, which the people in my life appreciate! Great post!!

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  9. Are you sure you didn't do op-ed pieces in a previous life? I was almost in tears, empathizing and dreading my own parting. Sweet sorrow my great-aunt's tush. It's a royal pain in the rear!

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  10. I can't get them out of my mind when I'm working on a brand new book for a while. But it's fun to bring them in for a guest appearance. :) Devlyn from Heart of the Wolf is in Betrayal of the Wolf. Leidolf has been in all of the series. It's like having a familiar character only since they're not the main ones this time, we see them in a new light, and that's fun too. :)

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  11. Hi everyone~

    Thanks so much for stopping by, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to drop back in earlier. I'm trying to get ready to leave for San Francisco and I still have to pick up my daughter from camp tomorrow. She's been gone five weeks and I leave Monday so it's going to be a short reunion. I just now I'll be working on the plane and in the hotel trying to finish up If You Can't Stand The Heat...

    Robin :)

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  12. Robin, sorry about getting in to comment so late. I have been on the road but I never want to miss a day. I'm glad I didn't, because it's great to hear that others have the same problems that I do. I thought this was very sweet and it's great that you love your characters. That makes us love them, too.

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