After the end – Hazel Gaynor

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By Hazel Gaynor

There is something undeniably liberating about finishing a novel, but it isn’t all feet up and endless bottles of champagne. Far from it. The End can be a strange and not altogether comfortable place for a writer to be.♥

I recently finished my fourth novel. I’m still not entirely sure how I got to the elusive end, but I did. During the past eighteen months, it has often felt like an impossible task. How can I write that number of words – again? How can I make the book on the page as good as the book that exists in my head? Is it nonsense? Is it quite good? Is it actually great? Will I ever leave this attic again? So much doubt, and fear.

But somehow, it gets done. Word by word, chapter by chapter, it all gets unravelled and written and polished and emailed to agents and editors. Time to open the gin and relax. Time to read someone else’s book and have coffee with friends. Time to go to the bank/dentist/dry cleaner and all the other places that seemed far too time consuming to contemplate in recent months.

151661-fcxAnd yet ….

When I finish a book, I feel adrift. Lost. The truth is that after all those words and all those months of writing and rewriting and wrestling with copy edits and falling in love with my characters, when I finally have time to do anything but write, all I want to do is … write. I drift back to the desk without realising how I got there. It is my safe harbour. The place that anchors me. I don’t have to be there, but there is where I choose to be.

The End is a curious conundrum for a writer. Part celebration, part agony, it is a writing No Man’s Land that I’m entirely not sure I like being in. Finishing a book means you can do no more. Finishing a book might mean you are out of contract. Finishing a book means letting go of your characters, and that can often feel like waving goodbye to dear friends.

Yes, I can distract myself with a large cappuccino and my ever-increasing TBR pile, but really all I want to do is start working on ideas for the next book (which has been vying for my attention for at least six months). Perhaps this might be the time to start working on that children’s book I’ve been talking about for years. Maybe I’ll work on some short stories.

Reaching The End isn’t really an ending at all. It is simply the start of the next chapter; the arrival of the blank page, full of potential, waiting for new words to be written.

Once a writer, always a writer. Or, as the wonderful Charlotte Bronte so brilliantly put it, “I’m just going to write because I cannot help it.”

Hazel Gaynor’s debut novel The Girl Who Came Home was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing‘ for national Irish writing website She was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of ten big breakout authors for 2015. Her latest novel is The Girl From the Savoy. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

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