I love my books. I love my characters.
Not in a completely uncritical way. Whenever I read a book that I’ve already published, there are always sections that make me squirm and think, did I really write that? And I can’t ever go into a WIP without wanting to change some aspect of it – which is why I try to minimise the number of times I go into a WIP.
It’s also definitely not the same sort of love I have for my nearest and dearest. The people who I truly care about, and would walk over hot coals for (small note to myself – hopefully there are no hot coals in my immediate vicinity).
But, in a strange way, it is a special kind of love. I suppose it’s the main reason why I can stick it out and actually complete a book. And considering that I began work on the current book I’m trying to finish off over 8 years ago, I need all the help I can get in ensuring I get all the way to the end.
This love is a pretty powerful thing. It’s one of the reasons I can get absolutely immersed in the worlds I create and the characters who populate these worlds. It’s why I can sit down at the start of a writing session and get a really warm feeling, like I’m about to hang out with some really good friends. It’s what makes the whole process, from first draft to final edits, seem so much more palatable than it otherwise would be.
It’s something I especially notice as I work through the more protracted editing processes. When I send my story off to the editor and I don’t see it for several months, by the time it comes back I’m always really excited. Even though the editing process can be painful, my deep love of my story keeps me going. It’s a bit like rekindling an old romance, warts and all.
That’s why when I finally get to the end of writing a book, I always feel a sense of loss. It’s like the end of a relationship, when two former partners agree to mutually part. It hurts but you know it’s the right thing to do. Or maybe it’s more like a parent saying goodbye to an adult child and seeing them wandering off into the world. There’s a sense of pride but there’s also a sense of loss.
But I know that things aren’t completely over. There is always a way I can recapture that feeling. All I have to do is pick up a copy of the book, open it at random, and read whatever I find. Instantly, I’m transported back to those romantic writing times.
So writing a book is definitely an act of love. It may be a strange kind of love but that doesn’t make it any lesser.
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