First on the checklist for finishing your book… (P.S. It’s not what you think…)
Book cover designed by Christina Helm, copyright 2015 Phyllis Keels
Almost every writer knows the work doesn’t stop when a book is finished. In many ways, the work is just beginning. The list of things to do is pretty long.
All logistics aside, though, the checklist I’m thinking of is more emotional, more relational. Because many writers become very attached to their characters and their stories, sometimes it is difficult to let them go. Yep, I’m one of those writers.
I love my characters so much. If I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t write them. I don’t like writing about stuff I don’t like, and I don’t like writing characters who have no honor, loyalty and love.
So when my characters come to life on the page, in a way, they become like my children, and before I send them away to live on a bookshelf somewhere, I have to prepare myself for an empty nest. (At least for a while before the next story starts to come to life).
There is a paradox in all this. Part of you wants to finish, wrap up, and be done with something so you can have the satisfaction that comes with completion. Part of you doesn’t want to let go, because you won’t get to see your characters every day anymore.
It’s kind of like sending your kids off to college or to live on their own. You know it has to happen, and part of you wants the freedom both of you will have. The other part of you grieves.
Only a writer can understand the grief we have when we finish a book. The sadness is especially hard when we finish a series. I think that’s one reason writers put out so many books in a series. Maybe they just can’t let go.
Now that I’ve finished the end of a trilogy, instead of focusing on the loss, I’ve decided to be happy for my characters. They now have the “satisfaction” of reaching the resolution in their story. They have grown into quite wonderful people and even though I will miss them greatly, I’m very proud of them.
As with any loss, we must deal with the grief it brings. The only way I can do this is to find the good in it. The good in the deaths of some of my family members is that they are now in the presence of the King of Kings, and they will never have to suffer again. Ever.
The good in finishing my book series is more than good – it’s wonderful.
You see as long as I hold onto my characters, and don’t let them out into the world, I am the only person they minister to. But if I allow them to live out there on their own, they will tell others (through their beautiful story), how very real Jesus is. On their own, they will have the potential to tell countless people about the love Jesus has for each one of us – uniquely, individually.
That is something to celebrate! It washes away all the sadness, and leaves only the glistening droplets of pure joy, sparkling in the sunlight of the love of God for me and for you!
And that’s how the Lord does things, isn’t it? He turns ashes of grief into a crown of joy, mourning into the oil of joy, and a spirit of despair into a garment of praise. Always remember that there is no loss He cannot and will not bless you through if you will simply allow Him the opportunity.