Friday, April 12, 2013

Saying Goodbye

"Parting is such sweet sorrow," said Shakespeare. Well, he was wrong: saying goodbye is all sorrow and no sweet. The problem is, there are times in life when we as writers need to say goodbye, whether to people, places, stories, or fantasy worlds. I've been reminded of this idea lately because I'll soon be saying goodbye to Asia and moving to the US. There's another reason, too -- I finished my first novel Red Sun Blue Earth last month (you can get it here on Amazon), but that means the story is over. It's done. I need to move on with my writing to a different world populated by different characters.

But what I'm learning is that it's hard to say goodbye.

Now I certainly hope I'm not alone here. Most people have moved to a different house at least once or twice in their lives. Some have even moved to different sates or countries. So you know what I mean--saying goodbye to a beloved place or friend can be difficult.

As writers, though, it can be even more difficult to say goodbye to our favorite stories. When we write, the words and actions and places and people of the story consume us. Even when we finish a rough draft, there's still a lot of editing and revising to do. We have to go back and tinker with sentences or tweak character traits. We see the action in our heads and hear the voices of characters over and over. But, eventually, there comes a time when the story is done. Maybe it's as good as it'll ever be, or maybe you've realized you need to set it aside for now even if it isn't perfect. Maybe you decide there's another story you'd rather be writing. Either way, saying goodbye can be hard.

What can we do, then, as writers? Must our hearts be broken each time we move on to the next story? I think not. Below are some ways to cope with saying goodbye to a story.

1. Keep a list of your favorite quotes from the old story to inspire you and keep you from feeling discouraged at the problems that arise in your writing. You can even collect pictures in an album or on Pinterest and look through them occasionally to revisit the good old days. However, don't leave these out in a too-obvious place--you need to be reminded, but you don't want to compare your new project with the old one. Each project should be uniquely special to you.

2. Get excited about your new project. Write like mad, every day if you possibly can, and be inspired by new character voices and fantastic places. It's a lot easier to remember the old place fondly if you're having fun in the new place!

For me, I've been writing a fantasy story that is really bad in quality but amazing in quantity--in the past four weeks, I've written over 40,000 words/200 (notebook) pages! My philosophy is to focus on writing more pages and enjoying the story, not stressing about whether it's good. (In case anyone's interested, the story is set in modern Ireland/a parallel magical Ireland, and the main character, Kelsey Marx, must take part in political revolutions and act in saintly plays and fight Vikings.) So, all that to say: deeply involve yourself in your new project, and keep at it!

3. Always remember that you can go back. If you really want to, you could write a short story or a poem about those characters from that story. Even better, you can go back and read what you've written. However, your focus should not be on looking back but on looking ahead. Rest assured, greater things are yet to come so long as you keep on writing!

4. If all else fails, eat chocolate and do something un-writing-related (just do not laze around on the Internet!). Maybe buy an awesome 500-piece puzzle. Paint a picture. Play a board game. Take some photos. Then, once you start feeling better, get to work on your new project. And have fun with it! Don't pressure yourself to be perfect, just pressure yourself to enjoy your writing and your life!

So that's it, folks -- your trusty tips to overcoming post-writing-depression. Let me know in the comments if you've ever suffered from this peculiar illness or if you have any other tips on saying goodbye that you'd like to add.


  1. I find that saying goodbye is mysterious alongside sad. Whenever we go on vacation, I even say goodbye to our house before leaving. I have not finished a large work yet but am getting closer to finishing. I have had to say goodbye for good to my grandfather who died this January. It was very sad but also mysterious and thought-provoking. I know I'll see him again though.
    I will remember this page for when I finish one of my bigger stories. (:

    1. Thanks so much for sharing! Yes, goodbyes are such mysterious things, but I think saying a proper goodbye can bring some measure of peace even amidst the sorrow. I'm so sorry to hear about your grandfather; I know having to say goodbye to those who have passed away are some of the most difficult goodbyes possible. I certainly hope this page can help you as you start to finish longer stories!

  2. Wow, such a good post, Sienna! I exactly know how this feels, saying goodbye (temporarily at least) to a story that I had been working on for over five years. Last November I came to the realization that I really did not have the time or skill at this stage of my writing journey (being my first full-length novel) to undertake such a major work; the research, the philosophical depth and the complex characters and plot/subplots that the story demanded was quite overwhelming and I felt that I would be able to better execute the writing of the story-line if I had more experience and a bit of a break to work on something a little less mentally challenging and more 'modern'. And so now, I am writing a novel based off a short story I wrote a while ago. But it was so hard pulling myself away from my old characters - heartbreaking actually! And my new novel seemed so painfully different and hard to write in compared to my old one (new characters, storyline, themes and time-period!) that for a long while I had a hard time getting excited about the new story. It is starting to get really exciting now though, the more I work on it (such a good point about getting excited with a story by writing excessively!). And as to my old story - I know I can return to it anytime, and besides I have a Pinterest board - :)

    Your new novel sounds so fascinating!! I look forward to hearing more about it. And I do want to read your novel, Red Sun Blue Earth =).

    Ah, I've moved countless times between towns, cities, states and countries! So, I know the feeling, yet again. I hope you have a happy and safe 'move' to the US.

    Many blessings in Christ,

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Joy! Yeah, I can totally relate to your feeling. I was in exactly the same situation when I started writing my first novel. I worked on it really hard for about five years or so (on and off), and finally decided that I needed to say goodbye, because I did not have the inspiration, skills, or resources to finish the story at that point. You're right, it is sort of heartbreaking! But it's quite reassuring that we can go back to those stories when we're ready for them :)

      I'm glad you like the sound of my new story! It', well, not quite ready to share yet, but hopefully once it's finished and edited it will be a bit better! Thanks for your interest in Red Sun Blue Earth, too! I hope if you get a chance to read it that you'll enjoy it.

      Wow, sounds like you've got plenty of experience with moving! Thanks very much for the well-wishes!! Blessings to you too!

  3. Thanks for the great tips. Ha, love the last one. :) And the image at the bottom from "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is wonderful--can you give image credit at all?

    1. Christina, thanks for your comment! I'm glad you thought the tips were good! Let's see, as for the image at the end, it is a screenshot from the movie Voyage of the Dawn Treader so it doesn't properly have a "credit," but I believe it can be found several places online, among which is this link: Hope that helps!


Please remember to post graciously, whether or not you agree with the post.

Proverbs 15:1
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."