Here's the thing. You've been writing a novel and there's the first draft done. You leave it for a while, come back and reread, realise how much more needs to be done and waver. Then you do all the technical, hard graft things; redraft, polish, redraft some more, cut your favourite section because it doesn't work, move things around, get the whole thing into shape, and then finally, after all that time, you realise it's finished * and you send it out and wait and wait.
I can cope with that. I was ready for the waiting.
But something I didn't expect to happen, something I wasn't ready for at all, was how much I miss those characters. I've spent so long thinking about them, imagining them, helping them do and say what it is they needed to do and say, that now I don't need to do that any more, I really miss them. They exist in a complete and finished world within the pages of the novel and don't need me any more. There is nothing constructive I can do for them now. I have to let them go and move on - spend time with new characters, have fun getting to know them, discover their needs and wants. And I'm looking forward to it. I really am. Honest.
Yet, I can never quite prevent those who came first from wandering back, creeping in from that vast space beyond the final page to whisper in my ear and unsettle me. No, I'll never be able to properly let them go.
And I wonder, is that true for everyone? Is that usual?
So my question is, how do other writers deal with leaving behind one set of characters to begin working with the next? How do they cope with that experience?
*As finished as you can make it, anyway...