Fiction and Funerals

After you lose someone you love, you want to be around other people who knew that person too. You want to hear stories of that person, to hear other people talk about how he touched their lives.  There is a real need for this contact, a longing.  You need to know that you were not alone in experiencing this other being. The person you experienced existed.

I find that there is a stage in the writing process that is a kind of mourning. As I work on a novel or a play, I become attached to the characters. I fall in love with them. As I am writing them I have an ongoing relationship with them. Then, suddenly, the work is finished and I have no new experiences with them. Completing a work is a little death.

What follows is always a period of longing. I want other people to read about the characters so that I can hear them speak about them. It makes them more real. If other people knew them, too, it means they lived. Inevitably, readers have a different experience with those people as I had with them. It couldn’t be otherwise. But I need to hear what they have to say because I want to experience those people I love again.

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