It's funny how the seasons shift and move around us. I live on the Oregon Coast where we really only have two seasons: cold and wet, and a little warmer and a little drier. The Coast frequently receives over a hundred inches of rain a year and we'll probably add an inch of that before today is over.
But that's not the seasons I thought I'd address today.
Nor do I want to talk about the holiday seasons or the traveling season, not even the election season (except to say that I'm glad its over and I hope that the book publishing industry—which was so depressed the second half of this year because everyone was busy watching the mayhem we called an election that they weren't buying books—recovers).
No, there's another kind of season I live in as a writer. There are the seasons when the words flow and I can't type fast enough. Where I wish there were two of me to keep up with all of the words in my head. There are drier seasons when I may stare at the last line I wrote for an hour or more, wondering what sentence comes next.
Sometimes these variations are cyclical.
Like the ocean tides, I write better in the morning or at night. The afternoon is the doldrums of writing for me. I will often forge through these lulls because the story draws at me so hard that I can't turn from it. Still, I'd probably be better off if my afternoons were spent elsewhere...like out walking in the cold, dark rain. Okay, maybe not that.
There are story variations. For me it doesn't matter if it is a short story or a massive novel, I swoop into the opening. At a third of the way complete, I wonder if I'll ever discover where the ending might lie. At the halfway point, I'm convinced that this story will be too short for what I intended it to be. At two thirds, something clicks and I can no longer type fast enough. And the end is a grand crescendo that leaves me panting at the keyboard wondering where I will ever find another story to so engage me. This cycle is invariable. I now know what long the finished work will be by where I hit each of these markers.
There are series variations as well. I have written over a dozen series. Some are complete, some are in process, and some may never end. But there is an ebb and flow to a series. The Book 1 of hope, the Book 2-3 of discovery, and the Book 4 (or 6 or 10) of completeness. I just finished a series last Sunday. It will be out soon, but at the moment it doesn't even have a cover. But that's not my point.
It was the last book in the series because it completed the stories that I wanted to tell about that place, that time, those people. I know from past experience that I will have a season where I mourn their loss. They were companions as I traveled through the cycle of the seasons that occur out in the world rather than on my screen or in my head.
But I also find great joy in them. It is a cycle of story well told and greatly enjoyed, by me. That is why I write. To spend time with characters I find fascinating and to tell their stories.
It isn't to chase markets or make $9 where I might have only made $8. It is to tell story, no, to discover story. And to reach that place where my cycle is complete and that story of completeness is told.
I know tomorrow, even as you read this, that I will be starting on another book in another series. That I will hope-discover-complete those stories and series as well.
But for now, there is this moment between the completion a series, but before it launches out into the world and becomes an object for sale and marketing.
In this now, I sit here with a strange smile on my face and a feeling beyond peace...perhaps it is serenity.
I could wish you no greater gift this holiday season than to find that end of story, end of series moment of happiness and serenity.
...full well knowing the joy that awaits you around the corner of tomorrow.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
M. L. Buchman has over 50 novels and 40 short stories in print. Military romantic suspense titles from both his Night Stalker and Firehawks series have been named Booklist “Top 10 of the Year,” placing two titles on their prestigious “Top 101 Romances of the Last 10 Years” list. His Delta Force series opener, Target Engaged, was a 2016 RITA nominee. In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.