On July 22, the final installment of the Call of the Crow Quartet was released. A decade of work had gone into that series, so finishing it felt… kind of bizarre. What was my brain supposed to do without plot knots to detangle, sentences to hone, beloved characters to hang out with?
When I first started writing the series, my kids were two and four years old. The three of us would spend long days at home. As much as I loved the time we had together, it was also exhausting, and I craved interaction with other adults. I veered often into lonely, dark, and anxious thought patterns. But once the idea for When We Vanished was born, I suddenly had a “place” to go! No longer stuck within the mental confines of my own life, I was able to dream. To imagine. To build a new world. It was exhilarating!
Even as the kids grew and those long-days-at-home faded away, I still had my novel-world escape. It wasn’t always pleasant (the books do get pretty dark at times), but there was still a comforting separation between that world and my own life. Later, I came to realize that the books were an important container, a safe place where I could explore aspects of the world – and of myself – that scared me.
So when finishing the series, I was really sad to let go of the characters that had been through so much with me. I worried about the implications of losing my novel-world. What would happen to me now? Would I be able to let go of these people, these stories?
It has now been two months since the release date of the last book. Whenever I think about the series these days, it’s with fondness, and maybe even a little nostalgia. It feels decisively done. I’m not entirely sure the characters are done with me yet, but for now they are not begging for my attention. I think they’re satisfied, too.
(Side note, I had a dream recently that Andi and Cyrus were playing at a new music festival called Luciferpalooza. Even though I thought Cyrus was an odd choice of bandmate – he could only ever get the hang of the woodblock! – the two of them were stoked to be on stage together, and that made me very happy.)
On the whole, this transition to post-COTCQ life has been going more smoothly than I’d thought it might. Part of the reason is that I’ve been allowing plenty of space for it. After all, it’s a kind of loss, and the grieving will take as long as it takes.
In general, I’m trying to slow down this season. (I just checked out How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell from the library, because I need help with this!!) But I also have a few more COTCQ-related irons in the fire. They’re still in the early stages, so I will share more soon!
In short, I suppose that the answer to the question, “Now what?” is still in flux. But I have a feeling that this blog will evolve into a new thought-processing-container as I delve deeply into some inner work this fall. I look forward to sharing the journey with you!