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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee

Parting is such sweet sorrow


It’s hard to believe that finishing writing a book is anything but a great relief. But there is a strange sense of sorrow in the parting from one’s characters. It is as if I’m suddenly experiencing separation anxiety.

I have struggled and agonised a little over the second Lily O’Hara novel. She has definitely grown as a character in this story and is grappling with issues that both torment and bewilder her. (Can’t say that there isn’t a little bit of authorial commentary in her emotional responses)

It has been a long year of writing and my ‘real’ work has managed to get in the way of completing this one any earlier. I had periods where I simply thought about the book and the life I was meant to be creating for my characters but didn’t open the laptop for weeks on end. I experienced some guilt each time I passed the computer thinking that they were all hanging around the pages waiting for something to happen.

And then it did happen. In the last few months the story just came to life. I was on a roll and for several weeks resented not having the time or the quietness to get the words on the page. But bit by bit the story that I’d planned and had developed in my head, became a real thing. I was out of the writing doldrums and my fingers couldn’t keep up with the ideas.

When I was approaching the final chapters I had another slow period. It wasn’t because I didn’t have the ending planned or the ideas to get the story where it had to go. I think I was already pining for the loss that comes when there’s no more for the characters to do. I was delaying the inevitable goodbye.

Now this doesn’t mean that Lily O’Hara, Phillip Swan and Mick Flynn have been put away like toys that children have outgrown. They will reappear in a third novel sometime in the next year or two. None-the-less I’ve been ‘living with’ these characters for a couple of years now and I’ll miss the engagement with them. They are familiar and perhaps the fact that I’ve borrowed traits from people I know to create them makes them important to me. (Now I don’t want emails from everyone I know trying to ascertain which trait I’ve ‘borrowed’ from them!)

So parting is sweet sorrow. It’s hard to say goodbye but the expectation of meeting again is truly delightful.

Wither (the title of book two) should be with you early next year. Not quite in the Christmas stocking as promised but definitely lining up with the Easter eggs.

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