I imagine all artists – writers, painters, composers – come to a place in their work when they (in one form or another) jot down those two words: “The End.”
Naturally, the end of a first draft isn’t the END. There are months of rewrites and edits ahead. The collection of words I’ve tallied up on my laptop is still a work-in-progress.
But the story is done. The plot has wrapped up. The characters have completed their arcs and in some cases have died. Even my happy endings don’t come without pain, suffering, and loss. They are always bittersweet.
When I write “The End,” it’s emotional. As I scribble this post, days after penning that last line, my eyes gloss with feeling. And there’s no single reason.
“The End” comes with a sigh of relief and a wish to tell someone the powerful news. It’s a milestone. More than a year’s creative work coming to its conclusion.
But, for me, there’s also an odd sense of grief. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m restless. My sense of time shifts; my focus suddenly flutters away. I can’t sit, can’t move on. The story that consumed my thoughts and hours is over. The pressure to write, to capture my characters’ thoughts and hearts and sacrifices before they slip away, dissipates. I know the story now from the beginning to the end. The characters I have lived with and come to love have nothing more to say to me. They journey into their futures without me. Inside my head, I’m… alone.
Writing is, for many, an emotional undertaking. I’ve felt this way with every first draft.
I finished my first draft on November 18th with an additional 26,722 words. My NaNoWriMo challenge is done. I’m grieving.
And prepping for the less intense application of my craft.
Do you have any emotional reaction to writing “The End?” I’d love to hear your thoughts.