Saying Goodbye

I have one change and then one more read through of my work
in progress (wip), and if all goes well (meaning I don’t find any major problems and I do fix all minor ones I come across), my story will be ready to send off to the agent who requested it.

I don’t know about others, but this is always a difficult time for me. First of all, I’m always wondering if what I send is really THE BEST story I have to offer (at this time). If I kept it home and read it through again, would I find errors? Would I realize I could say something better?

I don’t think writers are ever 100% happy with what they’ve written, even after it’s been published. It seems like the moment a story goes into print, I hear a bit of information that I KNOW would be great in the story, or I read another writer’s work and discover a better way to express an emotion, describe a smell, create tension, develop… The list goes on and on because, as a writer, I’m always learning. We’re all always learning. (Writing is called a craft.)

I rarely read the finished book. Oh I carefully read the line edits and the copy edits and galleys or advanced reading copies. Those are the stages where I can make changes if necessary. Of course, that’s not the time to rewrite the story, but if I have made a real booboo and changed a name, or something has been left out, or I have a typo, misspelled word, etc., I can fix that. But once the book is in actual print and on the shelves, it’s too late. Yet I know, if I give the book another read through, I’m going to find things I WISHED I’D CHANGED.

The other reason it’s always difficult for me to say goodbye to my wip is I’ve lived with these characters for a long time. They’ve become friends. They talk to me, tell me when something isn’t working right or suggest new situations where they can shine. In this case, I’ve lived with these characters for over two years. First my main characters started out whispering to me, giving me ideas about their pasts. Over time their voices grew stronger
and they were quite insistent on what they would or would not do.

I know readers like sequels, and I fully understand why writers like to write sequels. They don’t want to say goodbye to the characters. In my case, I know my characters are fictional, I know they’re not really talking to me, but darn it all, they’re my friends, and even though I’m going to soon send them on a journey, I hope we’ll have a chance to spend more time
together in the future, time to meet new people, and time for them to get into more trouble.

How about you? Is that how you feel, or are you glad to say goodbye?

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12 Responses to Saying Goodbye

  1. vicki batman says:

    Is it saying good bye or moving into the next adventure? I dunno. But I love when something goes out. I celebrate over chocolate. Truly marks that I continue to grow as a writer.

  2. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who experiences “separation anxiety” over a manuscript! It’s the same feeling I had when I left my daughter at summer camp for the first time. Did she have everything she needed? Would people like her? Would she be the same when she came back?

    I know your agent is going to love your story!

  3. Sonya says:

    You’re correct that writers are never 100% happy with what they’ve written and I didn’t understand the reason behind that until I read it explained on Jeff Goin’s site. His post ‘Why Your Work Never Feels Good Enough’ was such an epic, eye-opening post. He also had another one-The Writer’s Manifesto that was great too.

    About goodbye, it depends on how long I’ve struggled with the story, how many rewrites I’ve been through. Sometimes it’s hard but other times, it’s more like ‘go-I’ve done all I can, make your mark in the world now’ LOL.

    Great blog post!

  4. Great post. The WIP I’m working on, there is no sequel. When MC 1 and 2 are gone, they’re gone. Although I’ve never had to say goodbye to characters yet, I know it’ll be a sad time for me when it does.

    All the best on your new novel!

    • Maris says:

      Maggie, there are characters who lived in books I wrote (and had published) years ago who pop up (in my mind) ever so often. What I found the most enjoyable was last year I put three of my older romances out as e-books. I had to retype them since they’d been written (and saved) on discs that my computer wouldn’t read. And I was glad I had the chance to retype them. It gave me the opportunity once again to spend time with those characters (and to bring the stories into the 21st century, with our cell phones, etc.).

  5. Annette says:

    Glad to see your characters still have some new adventures left in them, Maris. Good topic. I’ve found that I practically go into mourning when I have to leave a ms with characters I’ve enjoyed–even if some were characters I loved to hate.

    Looking forward to the new adventures of your character friends. All the best, Annette

  6. Maris,

    It is hard to part with friends. And as far as making changes. That’s why sometimes these manuscripts need to be wrenched from our hands. As you said, we’d never let them go.

    It’s a little like raising children. You nurture (craft) them to stand on their own and hope you’ve done a good enough job.

    Best of luck as these guys go off!


  7. Diane Burton says:

    I know what you mean! It is hard letting go of the characters, hard to send your “baby” out into the world. It can always be better. No matter how many times you read the ms there are always things you didn’t catch. All you can do is your best…and pray. LOL Good luck.

  8. I’ve never actually seen my work in a book but can imagine it’s like stumbling over mispelled or missing words when reading to a critique group. Sometimes if I’m really slick I can quickly leave or add whatever and the person listening won’t know. But since you can’t do that, here’s good vibes the agent is blown away with your submission. : )

  9. It’s always a mixed feeling for me…but over all, I’m so relieved to finally finish, that I’m glad to see it go. I do think about the characters though…they linger in my mind…but, I look at it the same way I look at a book I’ve finished reading. The characters are always there, waiting for me if I want to “see” them again:) So, I’m usually content with that.
    As for the never ending angst of could I have written it better if I’d drafted one more time…I don’t think that’s ever going away. It’s the darker side of being a writer…but we’re always a little dissatisfied aren’t we? I think that’s true in all the arts:) It’s what makes us keep striving…
    Great post:) I think I’ll go have a piece of chocolate now:) I’ve found it helps immensely with the angst:)

  10. Saying ‘goodbye’ is bittersweet. It’s done, off to the races kind of feeling, got my best Derby hat on and high expectations! Yeah! Yes, better not look at the copy ms—sure to find an error. Then the bitter sets in…a week, two….three…waiting…oh the agony. The memories of characters still in heart and heard…high hopes for them Yes, Maris, you are wise…don’t read the finished product. Too late to correct anything…like giving birth and it can be painful. Overall…a good feeling and the next step is to start another love affair…so sweet….

  11. enid says:

    Love the references to chocolate celebrations! Do get some good chocolate, blow a kiss into the wind and send it/them on the way to the rest of us, who are WAITING!