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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The End of a Lovely Affair

This is it. I've come to The End. We shall meet again, but for now it's time to say goodbye.

There's a certain sadness when a reader comes to The End in a book. For those few hours as she read, she immersed herself in a different life, felt the emotions and lived the actions of the people of the story, but when the story is over, it's over. Perhaps she'll dream a bit about what happens after the last page. Perhaps she'll re-write the last page in her mind. But it's over. She has to say goodbye. And the more she loved the book, the greater the feeling of loss when it's over.

That's even more true for the author. She has spent months creating the story, giving the characters life, making sure their story is a "truth-teller" that resonates with the reader. And she has, even more than a reader, been immersed in her creation. Then the time comes. She reaches The End.

Some writers say they often have trouble getting to The End. They know how it's supposed to go. They have every bit of the action and the dialogue figured out in their minds. But somehow it won't write. Somehow the number of pages turned out slows to a crawl. The words won't come. They scrub every toilet in the house. Twice. And what should have taken only a few days to write turns into weeks.

I think it's hard to let go of a story. As long as I'm still working on the main draft, even if I have to drop it for awhile and do something else, I still feel like I'm a part of it all. But once I reach The End, and I know the story is essentially complete, beginning to end, there's a big let-down.

Yes, I know I will have to go back and do another draft, maybe two, or even more. But that isn't the same. That's more like meeting on the street the man who was once your lover and talking about old times. Nice, but not the same.

We know that readers, at least of romances, experience chemical changes in their bodies as they go through a story-- it's akin to the fact that all emotions we experience generate chemical changes in our bodies. In a romance reader, these changes are much like the stages of love in a relationship, taking the reader through the excitement of the first meet, the challenges of early relationships, the euphoria of first love, the struggle over rough times, and finally the contentment of long term commitment. (Not the Happily Ever After, by the way. I contend I've never yet read a book that promised that. They promise resolution of the problem, and in a romance, achievement of the committed relationship.)

But after that is The End.

The author goes through the same thing, but on a more intense level, and over a much longer period of time. She has had to create every step of this journey, from the characters who will meet and find each other exciting, to the conflict that keeps them apart, and the emotions and needs that bind them together. She has found a way to test their blooming love almost to the point of uprooting it for a weed. And she found a way for their strengths to overcome their flaws and build their love into something lasting.

It took her months. Perhaps longer. It absorbed her, took over her life, and all those chemical changes that emotions bring pumped through her the whole time. Her husband smiled patiently, but eventually started watching lots more TV while he waited for her to reach The End. And she kept saying, "Not too much longer, Honey. I'm at the Big Fight Scene now." He smiled some more.

And now, she's reached the climax, and The End is in sight. Something in her loved being in the story. Or perhaps she has formed a sort of addiction to the chemicals that produce the highs and lows of relationships. Whatever it is, she doesn't want to let go. Even when something else tells her she'd better either divorce the story or her hubby will do something similar. She can hope he'll be happy with extra-clean toilets, but she knows better. So she flogs herself through to The End.

And there's a great pleasure in finally having accomplished the goal. But there's also a certain sadness. Because it's over. The Lovely Affair has reached The End.


At 9:08 AM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

What you say is certainly true, Delle, especially about the last words being hard to write. I'm paralyzed at the moment with 50 pages to go and just unhappy about how this story is ending and a deadline within days, so no chance to revamp.
Sometimes the end is just hard to get to!

At 10:18 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Delle, congratulations on finishing the book! Can't wait to read it once it's published.


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