June 29, 2012

Bittersweet

pinterest: the white sail's shaking
Shakespeare said that parting is such sweet sorrow.  Personally, I think Romeo and Juliet was meant to be a comedy and anything those characters say should be taken with a shaker of salt - but in this case, the case of coming to the end of a story, the phrase holds water.

I've been working on the first draft of The White Sail's Shaking for more than a year and a half, beginning in November 2010.  I had hoped to finish in May, when it would have been exactly eighteen months; but what with studying and finals and the like, that plan failed.  This June, however, I set myself a goal of two pages a day to see the story finished by the 30th, and I reached said goal two days early.  Which is to say that the very rough first draft is now complete.

Naturally, this is exciting.  It's always exciting to finish a novel.  When I ended The Soldier's Cross, I immediately ran off to call Jenny and let her know (a bad idea, it turned out, since it was Sunday and she had been taking a nap).  I don't remember what I did when I finished Wordcrafter, but then, I had to rewrite the ending so many times that it hardly counted.  But each time I have been excited - excited to see some of my efforts pay off, excited to be able to move on to the next stage.

There's some bitter mixed in with the sweet, though.  To say I spent a year and a half writing this novel is also to say that I spent a year and a half rubbing elbows with these characters, and, for the most part, only these characters.  Now their story - or this part of their story - is over.  Oh, I still have edits to do and earlier chapters to write, the ones that got skipped on the first go-round, but it isn't the same.  As Tip just remarked in a different context: "There's no going back."

So for the next couple days I'll be in a state of elation, which will then degenerate into a few days of numbness, which will progress to panic as I wonder, what am I going to do now?  Technically I know what I'm going to do now: edits, and queries, and more edits, and eventually beginning Tempus Regina.  But whenever I finish a story, even knowing where I'm going next, I feel a little frozen.  I just spent a year and a half with this cast; how am I going to fall in love with another one?  What if the next story doesn't develop?  What if at some point I finish a novel and there isn't one to come after it? 

I am, you see, quite the paranoid writer, and I suppose that many writers have similar fears.  I haven't yet found a way to counteract them, besides telling myself that I'm being ridiculous (which I am), but I do know one thing: there's no going back, but as long as the Lord desires it, one can always go forward.  There are too many stories to tell, and new characters to love, and new places to experience, for us to stay in a single place for too long.  We must always be discovering.

Because we're writers, and that's what we do.

14 comments:

  1. Hurrah for White Sail's! I'm naturally pretty excited being the hopefully-soon reader rather than author, but I can only imagine what I will feel like when I am finished with Hope and Patience and Joshua and all the rest of my characters. But as you said, we're authors and that's what we do, and I personally think it is one of the most glorious jobs there is, even though there do come times of anxiety and sufferings! :)

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  2. Awww. I do know just how you feel, Abigail, but what a great accomplishment! Your White Sails is at least twice the size of anything I've ever written! Give it some time--falling in love with characters is just the same as falling in love with a real person--when they have to bow out of your life it will hurt a little. I say you ought to read a deal this summer--let thoughts of your "new love" come as they will, but don't force them. :)
    Cheers!

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  3. Emily - I absolutely agree with you: I wouldn't want to have any other occupation. I love what I do, those occasional agonies included!

    Ashley - Thank you!

    Rachel - Unfortunately, the great whale of a story now has to undergo major edits to relieve it of some excess blubber! (A disgusting way of putting it, no?) Your advice is quite sound. I am planning on waiting to properly start Tempus Regina; it needs time to develop, and I need time to get the feel of it. In the meantime I'm trying to get some reading in - though my booklist has actually suffered through this first month of summer - and to work on that blubber-cutting.

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  4. Congratulations, Abigail!

    I can hardly wait until you start writing Tempus Regina and consequently sharing tantalizing tidbits with us readers. It sounds like a very intriguing story! By the by, however did you think of that marvelous title? I think of all writers I am most afflicted with the malady of going-blank-when-attempting-to-create-intriguing-titles. The most interesting ones I've been able to think of are Star (or Star-child) and Teleported. Any advice you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated!:)

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  5. I know this feeling.
    It's a mixture of elation and depression and panic, as you said so well... I usually don't panic until I sit down to begin editing. Here, watch these and lift your spirits -
    http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL88F6722D5C1F1F62

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  6. Congrats to you, Abigail! How exciting - I always love that feeling when you finish a novel, but although you are so happy, there is a little sadness to it all: the first part of the journey is completed. And then comes editing...which is so hard!

    I'm one of your new blog readers, and I already love your blog; it is designed so nicely and has such a neat look to it all. I am also a fellow writer, having finished - oh, we'll say - two sucessful novels; the others were the work of a novice, and (sheepish grin) were not that great. But I'm working on it! My last novel, I will Not Deny (at 100,000+ words - I'm pretty happy with it), is in the horrid editing progress right now. :-(

    But I just want to say: Thank you for your wonderful writing blog, and keep up the good work - writing is worth it all to those who love it!

    With love from a fellow writer,
    Patience

    prc(at)calicoacres(dot)com

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  7. Annie - Oh, goodness! I'm very pleased that you think my titles are "marvelous," but I think it must be a matter of perspective; I frequently find my titles boring! As for how I come up with them, generally they come up to me. I like the title to reflect a theme of the story, or the main character (as in Wordcrafter). I did a post some time ago on a few of my favorite titles and how I develop mine, which might or might not be helpful. I like the titles you listed, though, especially Teleported!

    Mirriam - Oh dear, the Month of the Novel! I watched those last year some time, probably when I was moping about not joining in NaNo. So. Goofy.

    Patience - Aw, thank you! You're so sweet, and I'm glad you enjoy keeping up with Scribbles. Good luck with the editing - I'll be right there with you next month! (Splendid title, by the way, to bring this comment back full circle.)

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  8. Ah, Abigail, every thought and emotion and worry you described was one I myself went through when I finished Valiant Journeys last year. It's hard, leaving behind one story for another, but it's a necessary part of being a writer. I know I still sometimes miss my days of writing VJ, but there are more characters to meet, more tales to pen.

    Many congratulations for finishing White Sails!

    Keaghan
    www.whisperabovethethunder.blogspot.com

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  9. This is splendid news, dear Abigail! You deserve hearty congratulations . . . when will it be available for purchase? ;) On the bitter side of things, I can relate so well with your emotions. When I finished Violets Are Blue, I was filled with elation at completing a project (granted, it wasn't even half the length of White Sail's, but anyway . . .), but at the same time, I was heartbroken. These characters had become like family, and all the gossamer shadows of people living within the depths of my mind had yet to solidify into genuine human beings. Only time can change that. I second Rachel's suggestion to read many books; there is nothing like the works of the greats to get a writer inspired!

    Elizabeth Rose
    http://lizzyslovelylibrary.blogspot.com

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  10. The fact that all the comments above echo what I would like to say in my comment here without saying it cannot stop me from giving you an exceedingly big applause of congratulations for completing White Sails' Shaking, Abigail!!! That surely is thrilling news :).

    I have never yet finished a novel. So, I do not know that feeling of bitter-sweetness upon typing the "end", except in a very faint way when I finished A Love That Never Fails (but that was just a short story, and I do have plans on extending it as I've shared with you). Yet, having been writing The Crown of Life for more than 4 years, and lived with these characters through most of my teen years with emotions interchanging between love and hate, I do not know how I will be able to bid them farewell one day... I am sure I will feel elated, yet very, very nostalgic and sad. Just like I know you are feeling pretty much right now.

    And also, I am sure that struggle of what happens next, the editing, and then "what if my next new new story does not work" question must be difficult to face. But I do know that, with God's help, you will be able to go forward with new thoughts, new inspiration, new characters, new stories... because God is the author of all inspiration and I know He will inspire you with whatever new literary paths you journey in the future :).

    Congratulations again!!

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  11. This post inspires me to write! Yay!

    My sister and I want to buy your book the Sodier's Cross soon, and we am looking forward to reading Tip's story too! (my sister loves Dickens)

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  12. Keaghan - It's a common ailment among writers, isn't it? But there is the consolation of knowing that the story isn't really over - it's only that part of it that is. Unless of course you kill off all your characters in the end, in which case there's no hope for you...

    Elizabeth Rose - It has to be published first! And edited before that; I just started the process today. But one of these days, I hope.

    "...all the gossamer shadows of people living within the depths of my mind had yet to solidify into genuine human beings." That, I think, is a very apt way of putting it. I may have to quote you on it.

    Joy - Thank you! You are very sweet and encouraging. I imagine it will be hard to go so long with the characters of Crown of Life, and then let them go at last - but I hope the reward will outweigh the sadness. It certainly ought to feel rewarding to finish your first full novel, and such a large one, at that!

    Writer4Christ - I'm glad it inspired you! I like posts that make me want to charge back into my story. And yes, I did take the name "Tip" from Little Dorrit...though I hope that's the only characteristic of that fellow I borrowed! I hope you and your sister enjoy The Soldier's Cross.

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meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings






Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing



Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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