We've moved three times since my oldest son was born which wasn't too big of deal for me because I moved quite often when I was a kid. I learned long ago not to be attached to things like houses or schools because change was all around us. But when I became pregnant with my second son something inside me changed and I felt this constant tug, this ever-present nag that I needed to buy a house. I needed to plant some roots, because leaving the houses where I had watched my son crawl for the first time, or where he projectile vomited on me for the first time (yes projectile, it is real) it became harder and harder. It was like those memories were no longer as close and after my second son was born I felt those first memories of motherhood begin to fade away and I needed a physical structure that could house those memories.
I needed to be able to walk past a room and remember what had happened there, who got their first bloody nose there because my mind wasn't large enough. So we bought our house and that is exactly what happens but guess what else I realized? So much of those memories are in my books.
When I re-read something I've written, I see more than just the characters and the setting in my mind, I see exactly where I was when I was writing it. Just like I picture my one year old running through the kitchen pushing a dump truck even when he's not home, I see him playing in his kiddy pool in our backyard when I read the second book in my trilogy. Because I wrote that book in the summer, while my boys played in the backyard, I'd sit with my laptop on the back patio.
My characters in the Harlow Whittaker Trilogy have been fighting to tell their story for the past four years. They have been a part of my life for four years. This is why when I typed the final sentence in my trilogy I cried. It's more than saying goodbye to a story that has been playing in your mind for years, but also saying goodbye to everything that happened in those four years. Writing is my escape so during times of stress, or even bliss I would write, because I would need to capture those emotions. I would remind myself of certain things to add depth to my characters, to make sure that their feelings were genuine. You honestly do give a piece of yourself in everything you create and when that's over, when the project is complete, you mourn for that piece.
Shannon and I each dove into new projects after the completion of our trilogies and I hope it's not just a rebound from my last relationship (HW Trilogy). But I'm sure when this new book is finished I will feel the same sadness that often accompanies goodbyes. It will be just as bittersweet. The contrast between the pride of completing something that has been unfinished for so long mixed with the emptiness that comes from having to never see the people that you've had thousands of conversations with. I think this hit me so hard because I have never finished a work of fiction. Even though I have been writing since I was nine years old, I never finished anything until my Master's Thesis. That was the first time I wrote something massive (220 pages) that had a beginning, middle, and end. So all the charterers I'd created in my past still lived on until I just forgot about them. With Harlow, having to dream up the final moments for these characters that I loved, that I had created worlds for, making sure that I gave them what they truly deserved weighed heavily on me as well. So Cheers, I think the conclusion here is, art is difficult in more ways than one, and if you just completed a book, my heart goes out to you :)
Keep Reading To Hear Shannon Barczak's take:
It’s over. It’s done. It’s finished. Those three phrases are almost heart wrenching when it comes to writing a trilogy. On one hand, you feel like you have accomplished something truly extraordinary while on the other you feel an immense sense of sadness. It’s hard to put into words the emotions that are running through your entire being when you finish writing a book, when you write a trilogy those feelings are magnified even more so.
Valerie and I have both finished writing our third books to our respective trilogies, and I am again amazed at how our lives are almost running in sync with one another. She was the first person I sent an email to when I finished. I knew if anyone could relate to what I was going through; it was her. A few weeks later I received an email from her telling me she had just completed her third book crying, and I understood exactly what she was feeling.
The characters in my book have been my constant companions for some time now. I not only connected with them on paper but in my heart as well. To write the words; ‘The End,' was one of the most emotional things I have ever done. I think I was halfway into the third book when I had a sudden realization that this journey was coming to a close and for a moment I contemplated scrapping the plan to do a trilogy and just continue the series.
I became aware though that I wasn’t doing this for the story’s sake but my own, and that’s when I knew I had to find the courage to finish writing Isle of Dawn. I owed it not only to myself, but to my readers and my characters.
I’m now into my final edits, and I still have this sense of amazement that 1) I actually wrote this book and 2) I actually finished writing a trilogy!
I suppose in a way I am feeding a monster because my next series is going to be a continuation of The Skye Trilogy. My old characters will be making sporadic appearances, but it will never be the same. I have made peace with that though, and I am finally getting excited to begin writing a fresh story with new, exciting, people and creatures that I get to dream up in my mind.
There is a part of me that’s worried. What if I don’t connect to my new characters? Do I have it in me to write four books next time instead of three? What if it sucks? What if I come down with a dreaded case of writers block?
Then there’s the other part of me that takes over and laughs at my newfound insecurities. That part is also the one that cocks her eyebrow and swears like a sailor. You can’t go through your existence with the words what if as the first words in your sentence. You have to go balls to the wall and say, “Hell ya, I can do it,” because at the end of the day being able to move forward is the only way to truly live life.
Want more Shannon? Check out her blog, she has an interview with the Beer Czar!!
She also has a FOOD BLOG (how excited are you right now?)