Last Friday I sat down with the intent of finishing my next Writers of the Future submission. I didn't. Why, you ask? Because I was distracted. I had a lot on my mind and needed to exorcise it in order to concentrate on what I really needed to do. The result of that exorcism was a very lengthy FB/G+ post that took me three hours to write. Yes, that's a lot of time for a relatively short piece but this was free written (which always takes me longer) and I had to sift through a lot of thoughts, memories, and emotions to get to the heart of the matter. I don't regret spending that time on this modern soliloquy, nor do I look on it as indulgent or wasteful. As I said before, I needed to give these thought and emotions time to run their course. A little meditation is good for the soul, and I believe it's good for art as well. It's hard to focus and create anything worthwhile when you're troubled. Even though the deadline was looming, by writing that post, I did exactly what I needed to do at that very moment. And you know what? After I'd finished it I was able to complete my submission by the deadline without any difficulty.
So, in case you missed it, here it is:
The End of an Age
There's a hole on my bookshelf. I made that hole Tuesday night. It's the spot that A Memory of Light will occupy after I've bought it, read it, savored it, gotten it signed, loaned it to my mother, and rescued it from The Land of Misplaced Things (aka mom's reading nook). When Towers of Midnight came out it took about two months for that string of events to run its course. However, this time will be different because this will be the last time.
This is the last anticipatory hole on the shelf, the last time the dragon banner will ride the wind, and the last time I'll be able to pester my mother to read faster so I can talk about what Mat and Rand did. For the last fifteen years, this has been the perennial cycle.
Light! I've waited fifteen years for the end of the world.
Like many other fans, I want it to come tomorrow and I don't want it to come at all. I desperately want to know what happens but I don't want the journey to be over. The dichotomy is maddening.
Yes, there are other series that I love in a similar fashion, that they will see me through life's dark days like the Wheel of Time did and there will be other books that I will anticipate in a similar fashion. But this ritualistic string of events is specific to the Wheel of Time. In a way, it's the turning of my wheel.
Perhaps that's the reason why I'm so troubled by this. "The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass..." isn't just a lyrical metaphor for life, it's become a way for me to define the stages of my life. And even though my wheel will continue to turn, the completion of the fictional wheel's revolution is killing a hope that I've unknowingly carried since Robert Jordan's death. That hope being that the series, having survived an untimely death, would somehow continue past it's completion.
I've read the statements and heard Brandon comment on this at book signings and other events. I know it's not very likely that a companion series will ever see the light and I'm okay with that. Really, I am. The last thing I want is for The Wheel of Time to become a serialized fan fic. There's nothing wrong in harboring a little fan girl hope for another adventure, and likewise there's no harm in letting an Age pass at its appointed time. The series isn't going to disappear off the face of the earth. It will live on, I suspect, in the same fashion as The Lord of the Rings. Future generations will journey with Rand, Mat, Perrin, and the others and when they say "Wow! That was the coolest thing ever!" we'll smile and say "Keep reading. It gets better."
My life has been graced by these 14 tomes. They've changed the way I look at fiction, writing, and the world in general. Instead of regarding January 8th as the end of an Age, I should look on it as the beginning of a new one. A new age where I take my altered vision and use it as only a writer can to inspire others in the same fashion.
In the spirit of this epiphany, I wish to say this:
In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, the Wheel of Time rose from the grave and found a new home in the hearts of men. There it continued to turn through the generations because after all, there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time.