I’m certainly not the only one to go through this, but it doesn’t make the experience that less crappy. Now that I’ve reached the end of my series, it’s hard to let go of my beloved characters. I’ve spent almost four years with these made-up people and yet they’ve managed to move in, take over a good portion of my living space and eat all my food. It’s like a bad break-up or when a best friend moves away. You make all kinds of promises that you’ll call and write, but other stuff comes up and you slowly drift apart.
And there’s the new project: the endless expanse of possibilities, and for those who have written a series this is a blessing and a curse. Good, because you can start fresh with new ideas and canon. Bad, because you don’t have the foundation of already established characters and rules that you’ve leaned on like a crutch and you have to world-build from the ground up.
You’re excited to try something new, but little nuances of these new characters remind you of those in your previous work. Some might talk the same or have a similar quirk or appearance, like a dominant gene that runs in your fictitious family. I guess this is what having kids is like—they’re all going to look like you to some degree.
I’m definitely trying something new. My WIP is a (gasp) contemporary YA story. No demons, no supernatural powers, no evil villains, no glowing eyes are found anywhere in the text. Just a bunch of average kids who are up to their neck in dysfunction, which in some respect is a type of super power. I’m about half way through the story and the chapters are out of order because I hate outlines with a rage that can only be quenched by a human sacrifice. In fact, the very idea of structure this early in the game causes me to breathe fire and bleed acid like that oily creature from Alien. But thankfully my creative juices are flowing. This project is feeling less and less like work, reminding me why I love to write in the first place. A writer needs that sometimes.
But the thought still creep in. Call it weird, call it escapism, call it schizo, but I find myself wondering what Sam or Caleb would be doing. “Would Caleb follow Sam to college? Would they ever get married? Sam would never take his last name though; she’s too stubborn. What would their kids look like? Naturally, the sons would have purple eyes and the daughters green, but still..."
And then I stare at my computer screen and see new characters with new problems and I feel like I’m cheating on my new manuscript with my Ex.
Needless to say authors get really, really attached to their characters and their stories and with good reason. So much of you goes into each story, but it’s hard to break away and the separation puts you in a state of teen angst after losing a crush. You will never love again and life will never be the same and you’ll never have another idea as good as that last one, wah wah wah. But much like the heart makes more blood after some is spilt, the brain will pump out more ideas.
It hurts, but you got to keep going, keep writing, keep generating new life. Be fruitful and multiply as creators were meant to do. One day you can look back at all the worlds and people you’ve made in the numerous volumes on your bookshelf. And on that seventh day of rest you recline in your chair with a smile and say “It is good.”