The endThis week, I’m wrapping up a writing project I should have concluded long ago.

This is a contemporary story I’ve loved writing about three very different expat women living in Rome, Italy. Their lives cross when they meet up at a  1950s movie night at an Italian seaside resort off-season.

Although my contemporary characters are quick to laugh at the technicolor dreams of the 1950s women carving out new lives for themselves in Rome, they soon learn that the on-screen drama doesn’t differ too radically from my characters’ own struggles to find happiness in the Eternal City.

This has been a challenging year for me personally, and I haven’t been successful in managing to write as regularly as I would have liked to this past year. This is odd for me. Although I don’t have much time in which to write, I do jealously guard it. I also tend to write quickly, so the first drafts don’t generally take me too long.

This manuscript, despite how much I enjoyed it, was an exception.

That’s why, as I write the final chapter this week, I feel a real sense of accomplishment and relief.

It’s not that I feared I couldn’t complete it. But I did wonder exactly when I would complete it.

I love that feeling of writing the final chapter, when all of the pieces start to come together. I love to feel the adrenaline I imagine marathon runners must feel (I wouldn’t know myself – I’m a runner, too, but one with absolutely no desire to run long distances) as they catch sight of that final stretch.

Often, I also feel a slight sense of loss. The characters have been speaking in my head so long that I’m sorry to let them go. Yes, I’ll be revising, but that’s different from creating them from nothing, watching the characters grow and change as my story takes shape.

This week, I’ll also say goodbye to my characters (although I’ll still be with them during the lengthy editing stage), but I find myself mostly relieved to be wrapping up a project that took me longer than I’d planned.

And you, writers? How do you feel as you wrap up a project? Relief, sadness, joy, a sense of loss, a sense of euphoria?  A combination of all of these? Or does it vary from project to project?