Okay, so I have to admit, that the more I do this writing gig, the more sympathy I have for Kathleen Turner at the beginning of Romancing the Stone.
She awakens from her writing trance sobbing with happiness, and can’t find any tissue. Her house is a mess, she’s a mess, you can tell she hasn’t showered in days, and the only thing she has to blow her nose on is the post-it that says, “Buy tissue!”
It’s just like that.
I’m used to that writing hangover. I even get it with the happy stuff, because if I’ve done my job write (get it? Write? Because, they’re homophones, right?– Sorry– was channelling Zoomboy there for a second!) I even get a little verklempt at the end of those. I know that there was a moment in Left at Saint Truth-be-Well that had me just smiling until my eyes water.
So, uhm, the end of Forever Promised.
Just had me sobbing, and that was on the third edit.
And the thing is, while I was signing books at RT, a lovely woman came up to me and said, “A lot of authors have made me cry tears of sadness, but you are the only author who made me cry tears of joy. I loved Gambling Men so much.”
The writer next to me (Regina Lamm, whom I’ve already squeed about ’cause she was awesome!) loved that compliment so much she wrote it down for me, and I keep it here next to my soundtrack CD’s, for whenever I feel depressed about my writing or things in general.
So I was editing (that’s phase four, mind you–I’ve written it, edited it myself, and am now on my second round of publisher’s edits) and I got to the end of Deacon, Crick, Shane, Mikhail, Jeff, Collin, Benny, Drew, Jon, Amy, Kimmy, Lucas, & Parry Angel, and I found myself crying.
There might have been a sob.
And the thing is, this book ends happy. I promised people that this book ends happy. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few grim reminders of how unhappy it could have ended, and how actions have consequences–sometimes even consequences that are out of proportion to the action in the first place–but for our people, there is happiness.
And it still made me cry.
And I am going to be fretting, because so many people loved the first three books, and saying goodbye to all those characters was really hard. I mean, think about it–I started and finished three books while I was working on this one. It just didn’t come easy. Everything was intricately plotted, and although I can predict critics saying, “It sprawls! It needs focus!”, the fact is, every scene was painfully chosen to point to one climactic speech by Mikhail and the final, deliriously happy moment that I won’t spoil for you all for the world.
Oh– and there’s some tears–hard tears–in the middle.
So yeah. I finished my edit, looked around my trashed house, and sniffled.
And my husband said, “Okay, Joan Wilder, are you ready for your trip to South America now?” Well, no– he didn’t say that. But he did hand me a tissue.
And just like Joan Wilder, I sent it to my editor thinking, “Read ’em and weep. I always do.”