Today’s #marywrites post was supposed to be about revision, but since I’m currently working on finishing a book, I thought it made more sense to talk about the thing that’s making me avoiding finishing my book! Look, I’ll be honest with you, no one actually ever wants to finish a book. Whether you’re a writer or a reader, we have no desire to be done with a book. We want to read/write it forever, and that’s just–
Currently, I’m at the end of a trilogy. I started writing sister witches in October 2018, so it’s not quite two years yet, but we’re getting there. I’ll have the trilogy drafted entirely before we get to two years together, but I’ll probably be working on it long after that. But, right now, as I’m beginning the third of four acts, I’m approaching the end of the first draft of the trilogy, and that’s–well, that’s pretty scary.
It’s always a little bit different. When I finished the first duology in the Saintsverse, I’d only been with them for about half a year, but I’d grown attached to the MC, Landon, in a way that means he’s going to be a shadow on my heart for the rest of my life. I was distraught at the idea of leaving him behind. I avoided writing the end to the second book for a long time. But, eventually, I got around to it, and it actually wasn’t all that difficult. Why? Because Landon has the potential to show up in future novels. The first duology is the beginning of Saintsverse. And so, while I was upset about leaving him behind as my main MC, I knew that I had the chance to see him again someday.
And then there are novels like bookstore boys. It’s a standalone, and the end is the end. I loved those boys dearly, and I sometimes daydream about where they are in the future–Will’s definitely gone back to school to get his masters, Émilien is running the farm happily, and they’re still so in love. But I knew going in that theirs was a one and done, and so I was prepared for it. I was still sad to get to the end, and you can bet that I avoided it a little, but all’s well that ends well.
Sister witches, though? That’s a bit of a different story.
Sister witches is the beginning of a larger universe for me, but it’s also the future of that universe. It’s the first time we start meeting everyone, but it’s also the last time we ever meet these women. Andrew Levi & Mason, who will be the MC in vampire detective and the Madhouse chronicles, respectively, show up at the end of the second book. We get hints of others along the way, and so many possibilities are open at the end of the trilogy. But it’s the end of the trilogy.
Sister witches, in the timeline of this universe, is the future. Both Andrew & Mason’s stories take place before they ever meet these fierce women of mine, and no matter what way I look at it, this is the end for them. I’m never coming back to them again. This isn’t like Landon, who has the potential to show up again. When I write that final chapter, I’m saying goodbye to Henley, Margot, and Adelaide forever.
Sure, I’ll still be working on it for a while now. I’ve still got to edit them and talk about them for ages as I try to get them published, but the initial creation, that first joy of falling in love with new characters, this story that I just absolutely adore is gone when I’m done writing in a month or two.
Finishing a book is hard. It’s one of the hardest things you’re going to have to do as a writer. Sure, revision can sometimes be the devil, and even just drafting in general is the worst, but closing up shop on something you love? Something you’ve birthed out of your very soul?
My dudes, that sucks.
I haven’t really come up with a foolproof way of finishing a book, either. Every time I get near the end, I just quietly play the avoidance game and read a bunch of books instead of writing. I literally just did that. I realized I was approaching the end of act two, and I did an about face and started reading three nonfictions at once. Subconsciously, I definitely knew that I wouldn’t be able to write while reading them because they take too much focus, and it took me a bit to figure out, consciously, that that was what I was doing. Once I did, I gave myself a quick kick in the ass and said, “Look. Stop it. You can do this.”
But hell, it’s hard. I would literally rather do anything else than finish this book. I love these characters so much. I am going to be looking up to Henley for the rest of my life. She’s one of the most powerful people I know, and I’m so grateful that I was able to get to know her. I don’t want to leave her behind. I want to write a dozen books with her as the MC. I want to stay in her snarky, weird little world forever. Sure, I’m excited to finally write Andrew’s story, which has been in my brain since 2015, but if you told me I could only write with one main character for the rest of my life, I would choose Henley.
I should have realized this post wasn’t actually going to be helpful. Though, I guess, in a way, it kind of is? At least we’re not alone in feeling this? You’re not alone. None of us want to finish our novels. I mean, yes, we do, I’m super stoked to be able to say that I’ve written sister witches, that this story that has been living in my bones for years upon years has finally come to fruition, but I don’t want to leave these characters behind. I want to stay right here forever.
I guess, if you want to walk away from this post with something concrete to say, okay this is how I finish my novel, here it is:
Finish your damn novel.
We’re at the start of June, which means Maggie Stiefvater is about to host her webinar on writing. I attended her in-person one last year in New York, and let me tell you, the most valuable thing I came home with was you have to write in order to have a novel.
You have to put the words down. You have to put the work in. You have to actually do the thing in order to do the thing. You can’t just keep moping about the end of your story. You’ve got to write it. Get it out of you. Let it be magic if you have to. I light candles and surround myself with crystals and listen to specific music when I finish novels. Hell, sometimes I just do that with certain special chapters. Turn it into a ritual if that helps. But you have to do it.
It hurts, a lot, to finish a novel, to leave characters that you love, to say goodbye to a world you’ve settled roots deeply into. But you still have to do it, and the easiest way is to–