I’ve just finished writing a novel. The research phase began while I was still writing a previous novel. I purchased books, scoured the internet, interviewed people, and to be sure the setting details were just right, I travelled to the geographic areas where the story takes place.
This novel was written over the course of two years during which the characters came alive. Although couldn’t see them, I could feel their presence, like friends I love but haven’t seen for a while. The characters endured prejudices, oppression, sexism, and poverty. I came to know their what would strike fear into their hearts and what would comfort them. At the end, I brought them to a place peaceful closure and hope. And now it’s over. They’ve gone on their way and I am left behind looking at a blank computer screen and THE END printed at the bottom of the final page.
I’m quite blue when characters bid me farewell, as characters do. What will fill the hours now?
The only thing to do is to write and fall in love with new characters. Until a week ago, I didn’t know what my new story would be about. But then the ideas began coming and now I am vigorously mapping out my third novel. Like an outsider crashing a party I wasn’t invited to, I’ve begun inhabiting an era and part of a Canada with which I’m unfamiliar. I’m doing the work of getting acquainted.
“I love to write. But it has never gotten any easier to do and you can’t expect it to if you keep trying for something better than you can do.”Ernest Hemmingway to L.H. Brague, Jr., 1959
Selected Letters, p. 893
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