It feels very odd to be posting about beginnings just as the month about fresh starts is winding to a close--but it gives me a chance to talk about the relationship between beginnings and endings.

Generally, I love beginnings.  I love when a story catches fire and I realize it has the potential to really be something.  I love having an entire universe of characters and plots just waiting to be created.  I love having those moments when elements of the story click into place and make it look like I'm terribly clever as a writer (even though more often than not it is just dumb luck).

But I've noticed as I get to know my characters and the story solidifies, I tend to start dithering about the ending.  There are many, many reasons for this, but one of them is that it feels strange to me to create an entire world of characters, finish with them, and then walk away.

Once, when I was at a writers' conference, I wound up sitting next to a very intense woman who described herself as some sort of guru/writing coach/crystal healer type.  I told her I'd come to the conference because I was having trouble finishing my book.  She looked deep into my eyes and asked me if I feared death.

I replied (as one does) "Um, sure...why? You aren't psychic, are you?  Am I in some kind of danger?  Should I take a taxi home instead of the subway?  Am I going to choke on the soup at the conference at lunch?  Tell me!  TELL ME!"

Then she told me I didn't want to finish my story because I felt like I was killing it. 

Now, this isn't exactly how I feel--but it's not far.  When I finish a project, I do go into a period of mourning.  I find it hard to say goodbye to my characters and move on to the next thing.  I find myself feeling...maybe a bit excluded from that world that I created.  And it sometimes takes me a while to shake off this this sadness as I start the next project.

It's like the song says: Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.


  1. That song was everywhere when I was in college! But I'm with you--it's sad to say goodbye to a book and much-loved characters.

  2. I've never thought of endings like that. But I do understand the meloncholy of letting go.


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