I hate endings. I hate reaching the end of a book I’m reading and I really hate reaching the end of a book I’m writing.
I love my characters. For however long it takes me to write their stories, they live in my head. They act, react, emote and think. They surprise me, irritate me and in the end, do what I asked them to, more or less.
When I finish a short story, my discomfort isn’t so strong. Most of my short stories are series of a sort. I can write little adventures for them again and again. Plus a short story covers such a small fragment of my characters’ lives that it’s easy to imagine them doing things outside of the story in question.
But with a novel, the ending is so often final. Yes, the main and secondary characters will still have other adventures before and after the section of time I’m covering in their novel, but due to the nature of a novel, when I finish writing one, there’s a finality that isn’t there is a short story. By the end of a novel, the main character has changed so much that his or her story is over (for now). Other stories might arise but the main character is a different person from what he or she was at the beginning. I’m never going to have that ability to control destiny for this person in the exact same way again.
You see, when I go back to reread a novel I’ve already written, I approach it as a reader, like rereading a favorite book. I can share their journey, but I’m not a part of it anymore, not the way I was when writing it.*
I’ve given birth and raised my characters and at the end of the novel, I have to let them move out and become their own people. I’m as proud of them as any parent can be and proud of myself for doing such a good job raising them.
But it still hurts to see them go.
*(And yes, it does make editing a novel rather difficult for me as I see the story as more or less fixed once I’ve written it.)