I'm making mental preparations for what is going to happen this week.
I am going to be seeing some of my friends for the last time. Friends I have loved for eighteen years, which (doing some quick math, here) is more than half of my life.
On January 8, A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson hits the shelves. I, however, am going to hit the floor in an insensible heap. The Wheel of Time will be over.
I know I am going to love the book. Folks, it's the Last Battle, finally. Our hero will have his moment. Hell, all our heroes in that series are going to have their moments. I'm not worried about how Sanderson will complete Jordan's work.
I'm worried about saying goodbye.
I have literally grown up with these characters. I met them on a balmy summer night when I was fifteen, ironically the same night I met my first ever boyfriend. While that teenage love didn't last, my relationships with Rand, Perrin, Matt, Nynaeve and Egwene, however, are bonds that never broke. I once joked that the series was taking so long, I'd be married with children by the time it was over.
Um. *crickets* Married with two kids, here.
True, characters never really leave you. Their stories stay in your mind and give you beautiful memories and daydreams for years to come. But in many ways, this is the end of something major in my life. I don't remember what my fantasies were like before the Wheel of Time. The series helped shape me in so many ways. I drew strength from Nynaeve's young wisdom when people told me I was too mature for my age. I channeled Mat Cauthon every time I tested my luck, and most times I won. And whenever anyone told me my dreams were too big, I just thought about Egwene, the youngest Amyrlin Seat in history.
But in the most profound way, it was Robert Jordan himself who changed my life. He showed me how deeply and profoundly a good book can affect you. He made me want to be a writer. Now, eighteen years later, I've made that dream come true. I've written a book that landed me my dream agent, and publishing success is just around the corner. This was because of Mr. Jordan, first and foremost. I recall the two times I met him and smile on those memories. He was so kind to me, and really took a moment when he signed my books to get to know the person whose name he was scrawling. I showed him the picture that is now my avatar-- cutting my wedding cake with a Heron Mark sword. He laughed and looked me in the eye. "You're a badass," he had said.
Robert Jordan called me a badass.
So of course I had the courage to write a novel of my own. I crafted my own worlds and characters that became stitched into the fabric of my soul alongside Rand and company. I could do it. I did do it.
So as this epoch of my life comes to a close, the new one is beginning: my own life and career as an author. I think the timing is pretty auspicious. I think, if he were still alive, Mr. Jordan would have enjoyed my writings, as silly and non-epic as they may be. I think Brigitte would like to sit down for drinks with my heroine, and Mat would love to throw some dice with my hero.
I don't know what's going to happen when I head to the book store and hold this treasure in my hands. I will probably cry on the way to the counter, all the way out the door, and put a box of tissues next to my bed for a week.
I know I will probably leave a piece of my soul on that last page.
PS-- Fellow Wheel of Time fans, I'd love to hear from you. How are you preparing for the Last Battle?