Do you ever get that feeling while you’re reading a book that you’re just completely in love with its characters? That you don’t want to put the book down, because it means you’ll be leaving the characters? Or worse, that you’re afraid of finishing it because *sniff* the story’s over and the characters are gone?
Readers feel this sometimes. I’ve experienced it a lot recently, especially after finishing The Giver by Lois Lowry. I didn’t know how much I loved the main character, Jonas, until I turned the last page and closed the book. I immediately ran into my sister’s room and begged her, “Please tell me that Jonas is in the next three books!!!” (He was, thank goodness. And I couldn’t have been happier.)
However, writers feel this even more deeply than readers. For one, we’ve created the character, but – and you’ll never feel this unless you’ve written at least a short story – we also feel as if they aren’t ours, especially after they start to move on their own.
It almost feels like what parents must go through once they start having children – you cuddle them and feed them and watch them grow up. You help them learn to walk, guide them and teach them for the first early years, then watch as they gain independence and, after a time, walk away from you.
This is what writing is like for me, more often than not. I make these awesome characters, but then they start to have minds of their own and do things that surprise me and make them even more awesome.
Because of this, my characters are some of my best friends.
And best friends are the hardest to let go.
Right now, my writing projects include finishing up edits for Becoming Nikki and finishing the last two chapters of Sneakers and Hot Fudge Sundaes. I haven’t worked on either of these projects for a long time, partially because of school and other commitments, and partially because whenever I think of writing, I get this really depressed feeling inside of me. It’s this ache that yearns to hold on as tightly to my characters for as long as I possibly can.
When I’m done writing Sneakers, there’s still a ton of editing and re-writing to do, but there’s a horrific feeling of completeness that comes with the knowledge that I’ve finished writing the first draft. It’s like reading a book for the first time. You know you can always go back and read it again, but it will never be the same because you know what’s going to happen.
This is how I feel about Sneakers. And it’s a very depressing thought.
Nikki is a whole different ballgame. When I’m done editing it, I’ll publish it and it’ll be out there for the world to see. Once it’s in print, the characters aren’t really mine anymore. I love that there will be others who read it and will instantly start shipping characters and fangirling about it. But, until then, Nikki is mine to ship and fangirl about.
I feel like a two-year-old, desperately clinging to a toy and screaming at her older brother with a loud and obnoxious, “MINE!” But, just like that annoying two-year-old, I will learn to share. Hopefully.
So, at least for now, don’t try to ask about my writing. You’ll only be met with a tear-streaked, chocolate-smeared face that asks an accusing, “What’s it to you?!”