By Robin Kaye
Last night I met with my critique partners and went over the changes I’ve made to On the Wild Side. As I crawl toward the end of a book—sometimes it feels as if I’m crawling over glass—I find myself going back to tweak a scene here and there, just adding a line or two, or a thought to up the tension or connect the dots so that the big black moment is indeed black and not gray.
Although I’m adding a ton of words, it feels as though I’m making little forward progress. A few books ago, I’d probably be freaking out right about now, but since this is my 5th, I’ve learned that ‘looks’ can be deceiving. In a blink of an eye I’ll be typing those dreaded words: The End.
Why dreaded, you might wonder. You’d think I’d be thrilled to complete yet another manuscript. Believe me, part of me will be doing my version of the Snoopy Happy Dance while another part morns the loss of my characters. I’ve spent the last six months in their heads. I know their life stories, I’ve laughed and cried with them and soon, I’m going to have to say goodbye. The problem is, I love them and I don’t want them to go away.
Every time I finish a book, I gather the files of research, notes, pictures and whatever else I have laying around and put everything in a box. I swear that every time I do this, I feel as if I’m at a funeral.
The other day I was interviewed with two other lovely romance writers, Kathy Love and Eliza Knight, for a Valentine’s Day article. After the reporter left, we sat at Starbucks and chatted. We were talking about how difficult it is to finish a book and Eliza mentioned a blog I’d written almost three years ago on this very subject. I was amazed she’d not only read it but remembered it. Here’s what I said:
I remembered a conversation I had with a friend. We went to see a romantic comedy and after the movie, as the credits rolled, we dissected it. One of the comments he made was he thought the movie should have ended well before it did. He said it was a fault he found in many books and movies, and then asked me, as a writer, why I thought that happened.
I had just finished writing Romeo, Romeo and I knew exactly why it happened and happened often. Writers don’t want to lose the characters they’ve created, nurtured, and loved. They become a huge part of a writer’s life, and if the writer were to keep a relationship with the characters after the book was finished, he or she would be considered insane. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
If we writers are guilty of anything, it’s caring about our characters too much. When I finish writing the book, my relationship with my characters end. 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 Toni and Hunter, the only bright side I see is that when I start my next book in the Domestic Gods Gone Wild series, I know I’ll have them drop by for a visit.