I just did something for this first time and it felt like I was killing myself. I’ve been working on a book for the last four years. I created a story one boring day at work. It was just a few paragraphs really. Just a single scene. This single scene with this one character inspired me so much that I started to write my first real novel. In case I do eventually get this thing published I’ll avoid giving too much detail.
I’ve been working on this novel for four years and it’s been a painful process. I should at least have my draft done by now, but I don’t. It’s been really bothering me lately because I love the main character and her story and I just want to finish it and give her some closure. However, I also don’t want to rush the story. I’ve taken my time on this for a couple reasons, the main two being time and value.
Between working full time (and lately overtime), going to school again, and caring for my family and home I haven’t really had the time I would like to devote to my writing. I write a few paragraphs every couple of weeks and have my, now teenage, niece read it as my chief editor. She’s mainly providing moral support and inspiration – a reason to get it done since she’ll ask me about it every now and then. Her and my husband are the only two who have been allowed to read it.
I have written novels before, but they were written when I was a teenager and I would write them in the span of 6-8 hours without spending really any time editing them. I go back and re-read them now and realize how sloppy and void of detail they are. I didn’t want that to happen with this story. I wanted to write the detail of each scene with care. I want the reader to be immersed in the world my characters are seeing and value them the way I do.
Since I’ve been thinking about the characters in these books for four years, I feel like I’ve grown close to them. It seems weird to say I’ve grown close to someone who only exists in the pages of my mind. But I’m pretty sure I would cry if I actually met my characters in real life. They are precious to me and I feel a connection. That’s why tonight I felt like I was killing myself.
I killed one of my characters. This is the first time I’ve killed a character in this manner. I can’t remember if I’ve killed a character in any other of my novels, but If I have, I’ve definitely never felt like this afterward. I feel a sort of emptiness. It’s weird to feel like I actually suffered a personal loss and it’s almost worse knowing I caused it. Sure I could say that I felt like this is the direction the story was going (and that’s the honest truth), but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
I think part of what I’m feeling is also fear that I’m doing it all wrong. I think I’m getting close to the end and I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m doing. And that if I ever do try to get it published, my fear will show through my writing. My husband doesn’t lie to me. He gives me brutal truths at times that I don’t want to hear, but he has always praised my writing. He, of course, points out every spelling and grammatical error he finds. But, overall, he thinks I, along with my story, have potential. But he’s my husband – he could be wrong.
Anyway, the point is I never knew killing your own character would be hard. I didn’t know that it could actually make you feel like a real person is dying. It genuinely hurts my heart to say goodbye, but hopefully something beautiful will come of the character’s death.