Writing “The End”

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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.Β  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.

 

 

194 thoughts on “Writing “The End”

  1. inese says:

    Hope you are having a peaceful Thanksgiving weekend, Diana. I haven’t been around a long time, and it was a pleasure to read the latest blog posts. I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to say your beloved characters good bye. I find it very difficult, and I am only a reader πŸ™‚ Guess it is because we both put our heart into what we do πŸ˜‰ Thank you for all your wonderful books! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Inese. I’m into edits now, so I’m back with the characters bringing some order (and more disorder) to their stories. The sadness is fortunately short-lived as the excitement of the work takes over. Thanks for all the visits! Have a wonderful week ahead. ❀

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  2. You’ve articulated my own experience with endings so eloquently and thoroughly I have nothing to add!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. C.E.Robinson says:

    Diana, congratulations on your NaNoWriMo challenge done. I didn’t participate, but got to the end of a first book draft after months of writing. It felt so good. Now, I’m rewriting. I found an editor who would take on a historical fiction genre, and he’s line-editing, 50 pages at a time. Based on his diagnostic report, I knew what I had to do. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The good news-I’m more emotionally involved and the new scenes are coming together so much better. It’s quite a writing journey! And I’m happy to be on it. The end for me was just the beginning. Happy Thanksgiving.🍁 Happy Writing. πŸ“šπŸŽΆ Christine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great news, Christine. I used NaNo to do what you accomplished without it – congrats to both of us. I’m glad you found an editor whose advice seems on target – evidenced by your eagerness to write/rewrite. It is a journey, a wild adventure. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      • C.E.Robinson says:

        Thanks, Diana. It took me many more months than one, but every day was worth it. I’m a novice at this, and the editor I found is a great teacher, like he promised to be. He’s pushing me to be better & better, and I’m all for it! Yep, it is a wild and wonderful journey. Happy Thanksgiving to you and family. πŸπŸ¦ƒπŸŽΆπŸ“š Christine

        Liked by 1 person

  4. cagedunn says:

    It is grief at the loss of something within. However, by the time the editing rounds are getting hard to bear, the light of a new love shines on the horizon as a distant glimmer of hope and life …

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favorite part of writing a book/story is the very beginning parts, when I’m putting together the ideas. At that moment where I know exactly what’s going to happen all the way up through the end, I lose so much interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s what I like about writing a short story or a flash fiction story. I don’t have as much time and emotion connected to it. I did win a second place for a short story once that I had more effort in on and was thrilled to place in that contest. I have other stories I just haven’t sent in for a try at getting published. Perhaps one day. πŸ™‚ — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations, Diana. You never fail to amaze me. I agree that “the end” is emotional, sometimes more than others. Although I haven’t written the words as many times as you, or reached them half as well.
    I’m disappointed in myself this November. I believed that with work out of the picture, I would produce a better, cleaner draft, without that creativity-sucking workplace to hinder me. But the decade at that place resulted in other obstacles that continue all these months after I’ve left it.
    Even so, I hope to eventually sift a good story from the ashes of the fun with which I began. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. kevin cooper says:

    Lol… The title had me worried momentarily. That’s me, immediately thinking the worst possible thing straight away. What a relief. Phew! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, first congratulations! πŸ˜€ After eighteen days of total submersion with your story, characters, the plot you have emerged 25,000+ words richer but the cost cannot be anything but emotional. It’s a wrench to leave their constant presence in your life and the adjustment is not instantaneous. Sometimes we ask so much of ourselves! Hope you land back to reality soon … and not long until you meet all your friends in your latest book as the work starts again! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve already started editing, Annika, but I won’t dig in until after the holidays. It feels so good to have this done. I can usually writing a first draft in about 90 days; this one took a year and a half with all the other stuff blowing up in my life. Big sighs of relief as well as the emotional whirlwind. All good! Happy Writing, my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. PS- Congrats! Celebrate πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bittersweet always. The upside, sometimes I go back and visits parts of my own. The other upside, getting to put down on paper the other characters and plots patiently waiting their turn πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Carol Anne says:

    I also love writing! Writing can be so therapeutic for me. I never wrote a really long piece though. πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the visit, Carol Anne. I used to journal, and like you, found it cathartic. Writing is a powerful tool for discovery and expressing our feelings, whether short or long on words. Keep it up! And have a wonderful week. πŸ™‚

      Like

  13. Widdershins says:

    Sometimes it feels like letting go of an entire life, lived from beginning to end in the span of a few (or many) months. No wonder it’s a wee bit of a struggle. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  14. J.D. Riso says:

    The End, for me, comes after countless rounds of editing. My feelings are a mixture of celebration, relief, and gratitude. Congratulations on finishing your novel, Diana!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi. I think that sometimes writers breathe s sigh of relief when the beginning of a piece finally takes shape. Starting a writing project can be harder than bringing it to an end! Take care.

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, an interesting perspective, Neil. For me, starting is pretty easy. I have an outline and know where I’m going. Then as the story unfolds, things get messier. And even with an outline, I never really know the full details of the end or the emotional impact its going to have. I actually enjoy how this process is different for everyone – it’s why authors are such interesting people to other authors. Lol. Thanks for the visit and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Solitaire says:

    It’s like cutting yourself off from your best friends. What happens now? What do I do? Yes every time I want to finish I need to stay so it never ends… you my friend will find a way to wiggle yourself into it again ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will, of course, move into a new project when this one is done. I wonder how many stories never end, or become long long series because writers become so attached to their characters. I can totally relate to the difficulty letting go, as well as the excitement of completion. πŸ˜€ Have a beautiful week, my friend. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  17. When I finally finished my vampire story I found myself at a lose end. So I know what that feels like. I felt mixture of conflicting emotions when I at last typed “The End”. I had spent a large chunk of the year involved in that story, and once it was finished I felt a bit listless and unfocused. Thankfully I had a fantasy story from the previous year to wrap up, so I havefocused on that, but now that’s coming to an end…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You describe the feelings so well, Joanne. Exactly. Its a good feeling, but such a shift too. And another project is a great distraction! Lol. When this one ends, you’ll just have to jump into another. πŸ˜€ Thanks for the comment and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. acflory says:

    -hugs- Congratulations. Getting that story down is massive, but yes, I know the emptiness that follows. For a while we’re somewhere special, then suddenly we’re just us, here and the zing has gone out of life. For a while. But I bet anything you’ll have the spark of a new idea soon. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems this is a common disorientation at the end of a special project, Andrea. I love it that writing is such an emotional process. I’m refusing to let my mind muse over that next spark – way too much work to do first! Lol. Thanks for the congrats and hugs. Have a great week, my friend. ❀

      Like

      • acflory says:

        Yeah, it is. I have a feeling that writing is a passion, and when it ends there’s a period of let down. As for your muse, she’s already at work. She’s just waiting for you to let your guard down, and then…bam!
        Ahem. Big hugs back. πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Congrats on reaching the end and winning Nano πŸ™‚ I’ve not finished a longer story in a while, but whenever I submit my university assignments I feel at a loss and don’t know what to do next. I get pretty involved in projects πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t really “win” NaNo officially at 26k words, Louise, but I did what I set out to do. Someone else mentioned school as a huge effort that brought up some sadness when it was done. I guess anything personally meaningful that we give our full hearts to will elicit as sense of disorientation when it’s over. Thanks for the visit and have a great week ahead. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Many congratulations Diana. I hope you can enjoy a little down time before the next steps. Although I have only written one book, I can still relate to the feelings of grief. I needed a lot of down time before considering writing again…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brigid. I figured many writers would be able to relate. I’m rolling right into the holiday season which is anything but downtime. However, I’ll be ready to revisit the story in the quiet of January. Looking forward to it already. Happy Writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. ThΓͺa says:

    I have still a long way to go before I reach ”The End” on my present story. But I remember, espacially my first novel. Me and two of my best friends celebrated with cake and pear cider. I thougt at that moment I had finished it. But that was not the case. Lots of work remained. Not quite the same feeling with my short stories. But those were more finished, mostly completely finished, when I reached the end.
    For now, I both look forward to The End, and enjoy the ride towards it.
    Take care, and enjoy! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Sue Vincent says:

    As ‘the end’ doesn’t come for me until I’ve pressed publish, it is an easier separation πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  23. That’s how I ended up with a trilogy that eventually became a series of four novels. I couldn’t let go of the characters. Even after the final book in the series, I found my way to a sequel of sorts. You seem to have a pretty dependable muse, so I’m sure you’ll be moving on to something new soon. But yes, there is that feeling of being adrift right after finishing something intense.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Anonymole says:

    The End (for now…)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Steven Baird says:

    Well said, Diana. ‘The End’ is both exhilarating and grievous for me and, once the editing process is finished, it takes me quite a while to regroup for another. I still write in the meantime, but full-length novels are incredibly demanding. Oh, but when it’s on, it is on. As you well know. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • The emotional depth in your writing is profound, Steven, and I can completely understand how wiped you must feel at the end. I feel wiped as your reader (in a wonderful way). I’ve taken a year to write this first draft, and expect to take a year for editing. All good. Then on to the next one. πŸ™‚ Happy Writing – I can’t wait to read what’s flowing from your fingertips.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. dgkaye says:

    I think a writers we all know that excitement of writing ‘the end’, knowing it’s far from the end, time to put in the hard work for our creative endeavors. It’s bitterweet, and nobody but an author knows that wave of emotions that set in. Don’t grieve my friend, celebrate your new success, polish her up and move on to your next family of characters. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  27. mistermuse says:

    On the money, Diana. The “first draft” of a quality story, poem, or even a serious (by which I don’t necessarily mean LITERALLY serious) blog post is just the end of THE BEGINNING.
    Thomas Edison famously said “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” While I don’t think the ratio is that lopsided for the creative arts, the general principle is the same….and that is my emotional(?) reaction!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Being a novice, the times I’ve tried, I’ve never been quite sure I was at The End! Congratulations to you on finishing and getting ready for the next steps πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha ha ha. I think sometimes The End is hard to accept because we have to let go of the characters though we’re still invested in their futures. Like our kids, right? Thanks for the congrats. I’ll start rewrites on Monday. πŸ™‚ Have a great Sunday.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I’ve never written a long story so I can’t really say. Clearly you invest and immerse yourself with your stories and characters. I can see how you would feel both relief and loss. I just finished reading Catling’s Bane and am hooked. You have a real talent for story writing character development and world building. Kudos Diana!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. bamauthor says:

    I never write The End at the end of my nonfiction children’s books. Rather I say Next Stop and prepare the reader for the next book in the Little Miss HISTORY series. My feeling when completing a book is a mixture of sadness and anxiety about its impact and success. The fact that I have something to look forward to and share with my readers lessens the impact.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a lovely way to end a book, Barbara, – with an invitation. Kids must want to jump right in to the next. I don’t worry too much about impact and success, though I surely hope that happens! I mostly miss the characters, I think. But it’s short-lived since there’s always more to do and new adventures ahead. Thanks for the visit. Happy Writing!

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  31. I agree, Diana. It’s an emotional experience to come to the end of our story. Of course the bright side reminds me I can begin a new one and that’s always exciting. Congratulations on dominating NaNoWriMo! Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t really dominate NaNo since my goal was less than half the 50k, but I got that darn draft done. Yippee! And you’re right… the bright side is the next book and the whole new bunch of characters. Have a great weekend, Jill, and Happy Writing!

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  32. Teri Polen says:

    Congrats, Diana! And bonus words!!! I know how you feel. After finishing TGC, I found it difficult to move on from those twins – it felt like I was leaving my own children.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Stephanae says:

    The feelings you describe here I’ve felt when I come to the end of a story or a really good book that’s captured, my soul. Since I’m not really a literary writer I don’t feel the same type of grief when I get to the end of a project although I typically will feel spent and a little lost depending on how much of myself I’ve invested in the project.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. It’s very emotional. It’s part of you, so there is a bit of grieving to be done when the story is over. ❀️ I am almost at 50k but I have more words to write once I reach it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Theresa, you’re doing great, and with a week left. It must feel good to have that accomplished. I hope you keep up the momentum. Yeah, a bit of grieving, but my blogger friend make me feel better. Lol. Happy Writing and keep churning out the story!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Wow! I haven’t really considered this before Diana – but having read your books and regretted coming to the end of all of them, I can well imagine the completion of writing the story being a great personal loss to you. I was reminded of the last day of the first year of teaching my class in (a Waldorf) school – after all the celebratory doings were over I went back into the empty classroom and sat on the floor in a corner and cried my eyes out. I felt I would never have such an amazing year ever again in my life. I didn’t ever sit in a corner and cry again, but I did have that feeling at the end of every year I taught. I think when we put our heart and soul into an experience that feeling is probably inevitable at the end of the project. On further reflection I think it is an enormous gift that reflects back to us we did good πŸ™‚ I’m looking forward to reading this book! I’ve been an intermittent visitor to blogs for the past three months, I hope I haven’t missed too much xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Pauline! I think it’s the same – the ending of something we loved doing even when it was a lot of work – exactly like you crying at the end of the school year – all those little loves moving on. And I think you’re right that the process/achievement feels meaningful – leaving a little void when it’s over. I have been immersed in parent-care, so I haven’t posted as much as I have in the past. Perhaps more ahead! Happy Creating, my friend. ❀

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  36. Silent Hour says:

    Since I haven’t written THE END to anything literary yet, I can only say I’ve felt like that when I finished other projects. As when I was studying for exams: after they were over, and I was pleased with myself at how they went, I had this feeling of having a lot of free time with nothing meaningful to do. It always took me some time before I could turn my attention to something else. I wasn’t feeling sad, just a little lost. But I did feel sad when I got my History degree — it was a reward, but also meant the end of a process I had loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So it probably isn’t just art, but the fulfillment of a big goal that leaves a little void where the creative process use to fill our time. It’s something to honor, the celebrate, and to mourn, which is probably why the feelings are so jumbled and out of sorts. Someday you’ll write “the end,” Basilike, and I’ll read everything you wrote up to those two words.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. jenanita01 says:

    I know this feeling, as I have been at a loose end since finishing SPB. Couldn’t settle on anything else either, and Lord knows I have a pile of work to catch up on…

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Val Boyko says:

    When we have put our heart and soul into something and then it’s over, there is some sadness in the letting go and placing it in the past. I find that with my workshops and trainings. Afterwards is a time for nurturing and replenishment. Let the muse rest too, it deserves it πŸ™ 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  39. It’s authors’ version of Post Partum Depression. It will pass. I know the feeling though. A mixture of feelings, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Congratulations on finishing! πŸ˜€

    I’m pretty sure I’ll feel the same way when I finish the story that I’ve been working on for the past three years. I have come to know and understand these characters. I love writing them and exploring who they are and why they are.

    To actually write that last chapter down to the last line and be able to set it aside will be surreal. To no longer have to worry about how I’m going to get from this point to that planned plot point. To no longer have them catch me by surprise with their unplanned actions. To have no more subplots waiting to be resolved, no more “I can’t wait until I can write this scene”…Yes. It will definitely be surreal and I will definitely miss them.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Yes, I do understand what you are saying, Diana. You do get quite involved with your characters as you write a longer book and they do get under your skin. It is quite amazing how you get ideas about them as you go along. This is the “speaking to the writer” that people talk about.

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  42. Emotional indeed… For me every part of the writing process is emotional–the real end comes when the first copy of the book is in my hands; but even then, the process has just begun. CONGRATS on your draft’s “The End,” Diana! ❀ xo

    Liked by 2 people

  43. I think that’s why I like to write series books. Even if the focus changes to new characters, the old ones can make appearances- I don’t have to say goodbye πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  44. I know what you mean, Diana. For me, it doesn’t come at the end of the draft, or first edit. I feel nothing until I finish the final edit and declare it ready to upload. Then, I quickly move on to the next because it is too much of a responsibility to be ‘done’. I can’t be ‘done’ if I have another book to write.

    I can’t wait for this next one to be out. Hurry it up!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ah, you move right on to the next task. I’m sort of doing that too, Jacqui, but I always have to cry a little first. Lol. I’m a long way away from having this one done, but I’m working on it. You’ll be done way before me. πŸ™‚

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  45. Mike says:

    Sometimes I think I could edit a ms forever. But when I’ve made it the best I can, letting go can be a little sad. I go through the same feeling of loss you describe.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Jen Goldie says:

    I’ve yet to come to the end of a book/manuscript. Most of my stories are short and end quickly. I do have serial stories and the characters continue. I can’t imagine ending them.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. yes, but I’m not done yet-(I’ve got questions) but I’m in the thick of it one might say, and I’m feeling that upsetting and irrational thoughts are rising as I come closer to the end- will I even attempt the revision, I’m not sure I have what it takes, – anyhow great post as always- carry on πŸ™‚

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