Yesterday, I touched on the subject of completing a novel, and the thrill we experience. What I didn’t talk about is the flipside, the turbulent emotions that are often akin to mourning. This tends to happen when we reach the end of our journey and it begins to sink in that we will no longer be spending time with our beloved characters. For months, they’re all we’ve thought about, we’ve been with them every step of the way, and they are as familiar as old, treasured friends. Sure, we can go back to them, there might even be a sequel in the pipeline, but it’s still the end of a chapter.
To a certain extent, those feelings are shared by readers. If they become invested, and truly connect with the characters, they might feel sad about coming to the end of their own journey. It’s why (as readers) we have our favourites, and why we return to them again and again.
Yet, of all the things people find ‘odd’ about writers, the one thing that garners the most sympathetic looks, is how we feel about our characters. Even the readers who understand how we might get caught up in our own world, struggle with it, and we lose them the moment we start talking about the people in our head as though they’re real. If we mention arguing with our characters or being taken by surprise when they decide to go their own way, then those same understanding folk start itching to pick up a phone and dial a professional, either that or arrange an intervention…’you do know they’re not real, right?’
The thing is, to us, they feel real. They live because we breathe life into them, and if only on the page (or in our head), they have an identity.
So, I find it’s much easier to deal with the odd eye roll, or blank look. And really, people humour our oddities, as long as we entertain. I don’t mean to imply that we’re performing monkeys (if performing includes a pen or keyboard). We write because we must, but it doesn’t hurt if people benefit from the fruit of our labours!
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