I killed off two major characters in my latest novel this week. (I also finished the first draft of said novel, which is by far the more exciting news, but not nearly as thought provoking) I thought I would feel something deeper than I did. I have written scenes where I've walked away from the laptop shaking, unable to sleep at night, completely on fire from the implications of what I've just written. I've made myself cry, laugh, give my dog high fives and feel the need to go for a long angry walk. So I thought I would feel more than I did when I had to say goodbye to these characters. After all, they've been with me for months (and will continue to be with me through revisions, edits and publication). I know their secrets, their weaknesses, their intimate moments. I know them better than I know most real people in my life.
I was beginning to worry about this (am I really just a heartless and insensitive soul) when I realized why it didn't bother me. Why I didn't hesitate or feel uneasy in my writing. It was because the mourning had occurred a month back, when I had first made the decision to write these characters away. THEN, I had been nervous, confused and second guessing my intentions. But the moment the decision was finalized in my mind, it was simply meant to be. I had been writing these characters stories for weeks, already knowing the end result (if not the exact when, how and who) and so when it finally came time to write the exit scenes, it was like gliding on water.
Being a writer is strange (if not for this reason, then for the million others....). We have to be involved with our characters to an unnatural degree to write them properly, but time is distorted and everything is skewed by the filter of imagery and point of view and chapter breaks and dialogue and so on. We have to care, but we have to assume distance (otherwise, I'm pretty sure we'd fit neatly into someone's definition of insanity), and we have to make this struggle appear flawless to the reader. It is exhausting, but it is beyond worth it. I wouldn't have it any other way.