The End

The Writers Company student, Louise Quirk, writes about how difficult it is to end the writing of a much-loved book.

After money on which to live had truly run out, I allowed myself just two more months to complete a re-write of my book. I had until Christmas week and then I must call it a day, get on-line and find a job. It wasn’t that I was writing all day every day and needed eight hours in which to do so; it was that I had become – for a space of a few years – a person whose creative self was allowed to dominate. I did do small jobs, but they were secondary. My day began with writing and after that thoughts drifted in and out, were allowed to percolate without being cut off or silenced by the busy-ness of life.

The draft got completed on the twenty-first of December. I felt relief: the missing parts on which I had been working were ones that asked a lot of me, the hardest bits to put on paper. A week or so went by of festive cleaning, cooking, wrapping and unwrapping until I found myself, in early January, free of all commitments. I put my efforts into job applications but within myself, all was not well. I found a mournful film and watched it over and over, sometimes sobbing then wondering why I was quite so sad. Walking along a street, suddenly a wave of tears would rise up, an emotion too strong to be pushed back down again. I was like a child who had just lost her guinea pig, an almost uncontrollable grief that needed to be released, physically.

Was it the loss of my freedom that my body was grieving? It took a while, but I realised what had happened. Most of life’s losses I plan for. An ailing relative or friend that I can see is soon to let go of life, I grieve for them before they die. I prepare myself. Whereas the ‘loss’ of my story, of the characters who got expressed through me, this was something for which I had not prepared. My whole focus had been on getting it finished, on squeezing out of me the elements that were harder to write. There was not the time nor the distance to see an end approaching.

When we lose someone suddenly, the shock of it causes the lid of all our losses to burst open. The feelings and associations I had after the end of my writing were impossible to pin down but some of them were so strong and frightening that I knew them to be from early years. Children often push aside the pain of losing someone because to feel it at that age is too hard, possibly overwhelming. Now I was re-visiting losses once buried. It was healthy, cathartic but for a few weeks, it felt like a tidal wave that might overwhelm me, send me ‘mad’. And then it subsided. The fear aspect went away and I didn’t need to cry any more. I was left with a more gentle feeling. A nostalgia for companions, places that had become so real to me, for a story that had demanded to be expressed

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