I Always Cry at THE END


I took this photo a few years ago, but it seemed right for today…

This is one of those mixed up blog posts. I haven’t posted anything for a while, and yesterday I thought I should. I should blog, I said to myself. But I didn’t feel like it, I just didn’t. I dug around for a while (in my mind) to try and figure it out, and here’s what I came up with.

Winter. My next thought was about winter, of course. My next thought is always winter these days. The wind is howling outside. It’s cold and I’m really really grouchy about it. Right now, March 18, it’s 18F degrees. I’ve given up checking, searching the web, to see if we are having normal temperatures. I don’t care anymore. (I know we aren’t, I feel it in my bones.) I just want it to be warmer. I don’t want to wear a fleece jacket in the house anymore. I got an email from an (out of state, WARM state relative) who said he’d heard spring was coming to parts of the east (SOUTHeast, I told him). No. Not Maine. I was grouchy. We haven’t had a spring day since a year ago, last spring. We had snow showers yesterday and we’re getting more this weekend. And next week.

This blog is not about winter. (I think my last five are plenty.)

Reading drought. I love reading. I always love to curl up and read a good book. Sometimes I get so lost in reading that I need to lie on the couch and ignore everything else and finish in a rush. Last year I read a book that I loved so much I slowed it down. I couldn’t stand to read more than a few pages a day because I knew it would end soon. And it was a short book. When I finished reading, I cried. Cried and cried. It was a sad ending, a hard ending to read, but more than that, I loved that book, and it was over. Since then, I haven’t been able to read a book that I really fell in love with. And this year in particular I’ve barely read. I keep telling myself it’s because I’m so focused on writing (more about that later). I keep telling myself it’s the winter. I can’t stand to sit for so long. I’m antsy to get going. I tell myself it’s the books I’m reading. I’m picky. I need the right balance of good, unpredictable story with amazing writing. I like minimalist writing (usually) and sometimes books are overwritten for my taste. Anyway, I’m not sure why, but I can’t really stay engaged with any book. Most recently I’d been looking forward to reading a book (in a big way, I pre-ordered it), and I could barely finish it.

This blog is not about reading (but if you can recommend a book you love, please do!).

Experts. I’m a journalist by training. And one of the things that was drilled into my head when I was in college was the source. Find the right expert. Find the correct information. Be accurate. By training and by nature this is the kind of writer I am. I want to know. I want to know that I’m portraying something accurately. My current WIP (more about that in a minute) has a lot about horses in it. One of the horses gets injured (it’s integral to the story and the arc of the main character). Here’s the thing. I don’t know if I’m being accurate. I have a good friend who is helping make sure all the general horse information (behavior, care, tack, riding, etc.) is accurate, but I need to talk to a veterinarian. I have another good friend who is a vet, but she’s a small animal vet and has recommended I talk to a large animal vet. I haven’t been able to find someone, and it’s frustrating me.

This blog is not about experts (but if you know a large animal vet who might be willing to talk to me, please tell me!).

THE END. Back to that WIP. I just finished a major revision of one of my WIPs—the novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo in 2013. Yes, that’s not last year but the year before, so I’ve been living with this story for a long time. In some senses, I’ve been living with this story for even longer because it’s loosely based on a real-life thing that happened to me (you can read about that here), a sad thing. Anyway, I miss those characters. I know I have to move on, but in a way I don’t really want to. Kind of like that book I loved so much. I know I’ll write another story (I’ve started a few), but it’s going to take a little time. As I type the words THE END, I always cry, every WIP I write, but with this book I cry every single time I read and reread the end (and believe me I’ve read it a lot of times). I miss those characters as though they were real-life best friends.

This blog is about mourning. Mourning THE END. I cried. And I always do.

Writing friends, do you cry when you write THE END? Everyone, please recommend books you love, large animal vets I can talk to, and please, please, think spring!




  1. Lisa says:

    First, hugs. Second, I do cry sometimes. I recently finished my NaNo 2013 manuscript as well, but that time I felt relieved. Now I have decided to abandon it. In a way, I’m mourning because I couldn’t make those characters live the way I wanted them too. But perhaps there are other characters waiting to be born.

    I would love to suggest you read P.O.W.ER,, but I am a little nervous because at the moment you sound like reading is not your friend. I would hate to think it might not hold your attention.

    I have a friend who has horses and is super supportive about the writing process. I’ll ask her if she has a contact you might be able to use.

    • I certainly understand the abandoning… I have several manuscripts like that. Like you, I do mourn those characters. I’m still hoping that someday they will come to life (for other people) but for now, they are on hold. I am definitely going to read your book, no question! Can’t wait! I actually have read one book since I finished this post and I enjoyed it, so I’m on my way back to reading… Thanks for the comment, Lisa, you are such a supportive writer friend!!

  2. I cry when I write “The End” as well, Julia, whether it’s from burst of emotion, a farewell to the story, or a happiness/sadness for the characters. Writing with heart is important. I’m looking forward to reading your WIP someday.

    • Good to meet another end-crier, Karen! I know what you mean about the emotional burst/farewell, so true. It’s also true that I miss the characters. This particular book, with sometimes-feelings of endless revision, I’m thinking someday it will be NICE to miss them 🙂 Here’s hoping it will be read widely someday. Thanks for your encouragement and empathy!

  3. Christine M Grote says:

    I’m sorry about the weather. I was nearly as fed up with winter as you appear to be, and then the air started warming up. Hang on. Spring will get there.

    I cry all the way through the books I write, but that’s been the nature of my memoirs. I’ll have to let you know how I feel about the end if I ever successfully make the transition to fiction. But I can understand why you do.

    I don’t know what kind of books you like. Two of the best ones I’ve read recently are Every Last One by Anna Qindlan and AllThe Light we cannot See by Anthony Doerr.

    Here’s hoping spring arrives for you soon.

    • Still waiting for spring here, Christine… actually snowing today. Crazy spring weather this year! I’ll get encouragement from your spring thoughts, thank you! I can well imagine how writing memoir could cause tears, definitely true when I write personal essays, too. And thank you for the two book recommendations! I’ll check them out! Hope you’re having a lovely spring! xo Julia

  4. Micky Wolf says:

    A warm hello, Julia. Must be something about 18–was the same temp here this morning in Northeastern Ohio. Spring cannot get here soon enough!

    I tend to read nonfiction when working on a novel. Probably a lot of good reasons, or at least explanations that make sense to me. 🙂 One I have been enjoying is Small Victories by Anne Lamott. Seems to provide a shot of clarity and encouragement when the other world I’m living in is a bit overwhelming.

    Count me among the cry-ers when it comes to a good story or movie. And when it’s time to write The End…? More tears.

    The photo of the horse is a great accompaniment to your sharing. 🙂

    • Hi Micky and thank you for the warm hello. I am looking out the window at MORE SNOW FALLING. Argh. Spring seems a long way off with feet of snow still on the ground. Thank you for the suggestion of the Anne Lamott book. I’ve heard very good things about it. Here’s to finding good books and having good cries. Hope all’s well in your world. Best, Julia

  5. Chris says:

    Crying? Crying?! There’s no crying in writing!

    (just kidding, hang in there)

    • Your comment made me laugh, thank you. It’s good to know other writers understand, but this book in particular has made me weep, haha. I weep then I laugh at myself for weeping.

  6. Hi Julie, I’m a guy that cries when I’m reading, at movies, and when my writing has a poignant scene. Not sure if that means the scene is good but maybe it is.

    On the horses, I was an equestrian journalist and my first novel, Spiral of Hooves was a mystery/thriller set against the eventing world – dressage, cross-country, showjumping – mainly here in the UK. I made good use of my connections including equestrian vets when I was working on the story. Been retired for a few years but might be able to ask things still. Let me know. (Email or via website).

    • Hi Roland, Thank you for being able to relate to the crying… sometimes it’s just the way it is. As for horses, I feel amazingly lucky that I found a vet through this post! She and I talked last week and it really helped me pull my story together in ways I didn’t think I could. It was incredibly helpful, so I can well imagine how your connections helped with your mystery/thriller. Sounds fascinating. I’ve always wanted to go to a cross-country event by the way! Thanks so much for your visit to my blog and for your comment. So nice to meet you. Best, Julia

  7. Oh, I’m so sorry you’re going through this, Julia! I wish I could be of help somehow.

    I’ve cried during parts of the writing process, though not always the end (THE END always seems to surprise me when I finally get to it…it’s as if when I’m writing, I know I’m getting close, but I don’t know what day or even paragraph will be the last until I’ve written it, and then it feels peaceful).

    Sending warm thoughts your way, and I hope the book you need to read right now finds you. Which books was the last you loved that you referred to? Maybe it’d help to read something similar?

    • Thanks, Natalia. I really enjoyed reading about your “the end” process! Absolutely fascinating. What’s interesting is I almost always know what will happen at the end long before I write it (sometimes I even write it in advance), but I STILL cry. I wish I felt that sense of peace you feel!

      As for a book I’ll love… I’d love to read another of yours, another book I loved!! Can’t wait!!

  8. Richard Kennedy says:

    Winter does seem epically long the last two or three years here in the Midwest. To me that translates into longer, colder and more snow in the Northeast. Having that on the table seems to make grumpy, sad and indecisive most understandable. We’ve been reading like there’s no tomorrow out in neck of the wood. I am always tentative about recommending books because tastes vary radically and I know my own preferences are based to a large extent on mood. Having said that here a few that have received two thumbs up in our household. Jan Ellison’s ‘A Small Indiscretion,’ Joakim Zander’s ‘Swimmer,’ Alexandra Fuller’s ‘Leaving Before The Rains Come.’ I am currently reading a memoir I’ve had for a while, ‘The Chronology of Water,’ by Lydia Yuknavitch. I am astounded in good and so respectful ways by the pain expressed in her work. Mostly. I am knocked back by the words. Such wonderful words and so much pure talent. She reminds me in tiny ways of Jeanette Winterson. Hope these help.

    • I hope your winter is passing now, Richard… unfortunately we still have (feet of) snow on the ground and it’s currently snowing! Craziness. Thank you for your understanding. I know what you mean about recommending books, it’s hard, so I all the more appreciate your suggestions, thank you! I’ll definitely check them out. Thanks so much. And thank you for your visit to my blog and comment, I appreciate it so much. Best, Julia

  9. I know we have similar tastes, Julia, and right now I’m liking The Girl on the Train (I usually stubbornly resist bandwagons but my book club is reading it, and I’m glad). It keeps me reading late at night, and I often want to bring the book downstairs with me in the morning (since I usually have time to read only at night, this is a true testament to my love for a book!). It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s good, quick writing and an intriguing story. Might make you forget about winter.

    • We really are the similar! I could’ve written this line: “I usually stubbornly resist bandwagons…” Exactly! But I’ll try Girl on the Train. A quick and intriguing story is what I need. Thanks for the suggestion!

  10. Cynthia Robertson says:

    Blowing some nice warm air at you from Arizona, Julia. We’re a bit sad here, because we really didn’t have much of a winter. It’s already in the 80s and we had a day last week that was 90. Ugh! Still can remember my drafty old house with the oil burner roaring away down in the basement when we lived in NH. and I feel ya. Fires and hot chocolate get old by February, and by the time March rolls around all you can think of is sun and green growing things.
    Anyone watching (and thank goodness they aren’t) would think I’d lost my marbles if they saw how I sometimes laugh and cry when writing. Writing The End is a special moment for all writers, I imagine. Maybe one that requires some kind of tradition, like in Stephen King’s Misery – a bottle of bubbly, and a smoke. (I don’t smoke, but champagne would be nice, wouldn’t it?)
    As to being burned out on reading? Hey, take a break! It may feel like sacrilege, but it’ll pass. Take some time to reboot, and don’t even let yourself feel guilty. Watch some funny movies. Make a dinner you’ve never attempted. Learn a new language (try Duolingo – it’s fun!), whatever, you get the idea. Sometimes some time away from reading for a bit allows some other stuff in that will inspire you.

    • The weather is crazy! I’ve heard from friends in Colorado and Montana that they don’t feel like they’ve had much of a winter either. Yet here… it’s snowing again today! Really wishing I could blow it all your way (we could do an air exchange! How great would that be?). Laughing and crying… YES! I’ve done that as well. Thank you for your non-reading suggestions… great inspiration ideas!

  11. Barb Riley says:

    Hi, Julia! I can’t help you with large animal vet questions or writing “The End” (seeing as I haven’t done so beyond a second draft in ages). However, I can always recommend a book or two. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is fascinating (and equally terrifying). I also really enjoyed The Secrets of Midwives, by Sally Hepworth, which I thought was the perfect mix of family relationships (mothers and daughters) with a side of romantic love. Your mileage may vary. 🙂 Lastly, I just got into Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. Since you mentioned you prefer minimalist writing it may not be for you (it is a chunkster book), and to be honest, I tried reading it twice b/c it was so highly recommended, but could not get into it. However… I recently began to watch the Starz adaptation and now I’m hooked. It may or may not have something to do with how good-looking the Scottish actor Sam Heughan is. Ahem.

    Sending warm thoughts your way. Hopefully the birds have arrived and you can at least hear the songs of spring. Surely it’s just around the corner…

    • Barb!!! Thank you for your suggestions! Thanks for the warm thoughts, too… 14 this morning. AND yesterday a big windstorm ripped a big section of shingles off our roof. Not going in a good direction, haha. It will happen eventually and it will be wonderful. (p.s. I really owe you an email. So sorry I’m so delayed… loved the crow story! xox J)

  12. Cherry says:

    Oh Julia you poor girl you sound so in the dumps I wish I could send you the beautiful spring day we have here …warm and sunny lambs daffodils in abundance , and as you know ,I live is West Wales that has a chronic reputation for weather .
    Books what can I find for a desperate lady . You see I like Alexander Mcall Smith’s ‘ Ladies 1st detective agency ‘ just reading about Botswana makes you warm and laugh a lot so it cures all ails .
    As for a vet my nephew ‘s wife is a vet of small animals but own two horses so if your stuck I could ask for her email . Let’s hope better weather is on its way to to take care .

    • Yeah, I am a bit in the dumps, Cherry. I would love to have a lovely spring day in Wales (it’s one of the places I’ve always thought as idyllic). I LOVE Alexander McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective Agency. That is a great idea, there must be a new one out. Thanks!! And thanks also for the offer of your nephew’s vet!! I may take you up on that! xo

  13. Shary says:

    Hi Julia,

    So sorry about the frigid weather. I wish you could come visit me. The southwest is all mixed up, as Cynthia says. We never really had winter. Never really had it last year either. I’m just hoping for a little rain right now.

    I’m going to comb my goodreads lists for something to recommend for you to read, but I have to ask you to share, too. What was that fabulous short novel that you couldn’t stand to finish?

    Opening night tonight & 4 shows this weekend, so life is a little crazy, but I’m hoping to spend the afternoon with a good book by one of my favorite authors. 😉

    • I wonder how fast I can get there…. it was 18 this morning. Welcome first day of spring, right? Have a great weekend and break a leg! I hope you enjoy that book, too (have I mentioned you’re the best?).

  14. I’m thinking spring for you as hard as I can! I’m so sorry the winter blues have got you down. 🙁 But despite all the tears, crying over the end like that sure seems like a sign that you have something amazing in that WIP, don’t you think? To cry and mourn your own book must surely be a good thing. Warmer and brighter days are ahead of you!