by Janis Patterson
Sometimes finishing a book can be the saddest thing on the earth. I know that when the magic has been really working and the book is good and tight and alive, I often have difficulty in writing the last chapter or two.
I know what’s going to happen. I even have most of the wording in my head. I can see the action in my mind just like watching a movie screen. But I hesitate and procrastinate about putting the words to paper… or pixels, as the case may be.
Other times I race to the finish (as much as my picky craft-obsessed mind will allow) and typing The End is an incredible relief, one that could be called escape. I am shed of that world, which has grown tiresome, and the characters, whom I sometimes have come to actively dislike, while the wonderful, pristine world of a new project beckons seductively. I don’t know why one project becomes the mental equivalent of hard labor and another a delight which I am reluctant to complete. It has nothing to with genre, as this phenomenon has happened in every genre I write – except children’s, but as I have only done one of those and it was the result of a fit of bad temper, I don’t believe that is big enough a sample to count.
I do, however, flatter myself enough to believe that my readers cannot tell which book has been a delight to write and which has been labor.
I am currently in this situation. I am within 2-3 thousand words of typing THE END and have been having a terrible time doing it. I love this story, this world, these people. Instead of writing I find myself doing housework, which I normally regard as slightly less enjoyable than a visit to the dentist. No, I must find another analogy, for at the dentist’s I am given copious amounts of happy gas, which is a wise self-defense measure on the part of my dentist. You see, I bite. Quite involuntarily, I assure you, as I actually like him as a person and he is a very good dentist.
Perhaps this ‘place of magic’ is why the phenomena of series are so popular. Once ensconced in a world, book after book after book ensures that neither the reader nor the writer has to step outside their cozy little enclave. But while that is true up to a point I disagree. Yes, there is the safety of familiarity in subsequent iterations, but characters and places move on, and neither is ever the same as the first time.
Thomas Wolfe was right. You can never really go home again.