After almost 13 years and almost 4000 pages, I have finished writing and drawing Uptown Girl.
It feels as weird as I thought it would.
After I finished the penultimate scene a few weeks ago, I knew I would need an epilogue with some exposition, a short flashback and the final scene. As I worked on those parts, my progress slowed down incredibly. It’s not that I didn’t want to finish, I just…thought hard and heavy about the scenes and the dialogue and the tone. It had to be perfect, of course. Perfection is not something to necessarily shoot for, but getting something just right is. Everything had to be just right.
Last week the characters I needed for the final scene were all where I needed them to be and the scene was going to take place where I envisioned over two years ago. This scene would be short, more than two pages, but less than five. It had to reflect on the adventure itself, a little tip of the hat to the end of the series, a little humor and optimism. I decided a few days ago I would need three pages for this. Each page had to do something a little different but still flow. I knew on Friday that this was the weekend to finish.
Like I said earlier, I wasn’t putting off writing the final pages, I just needed to be sure of what I wanted to say.
I took Sophie swimming yesterday, we had lunch as a family, Amy took Ryan to work and while my daughter was drawing, I knew it was time. I was as ready as I thought I could be. I didn’t know exactly what the characters would say, but I knew they would tell me. You see, it sounds weird, but when you’ve written your characters for a while, you never have to think about what they’ll say. The words and dialogue just come. I sat down in my dining room and 45 minutes later, I was finished. Amy came home, asked what I was doing and I told her that it had finally happened, the final page was drawn.
At first it felt like simply finishing another book. Amy and I took Sophie to Target and out to dinner, I scanned and lettered the final pages, read Sophie her bedtime stories and went into my studio and for the first time in over a decade, I didn’t have anything else to do for Uptown Girl. No new page to pencil, no new story to begin.
There’s still stuff that needs to be done, of course. Ben Mudek, the wizard behind the previous Uptown Girl book covers is working on this cover, I will print off a copy of the book and send it to my friends to proofread, and then it goes to the printer. I imagine once the book is back from the printer and I have it on my shelf, then it will truly feel finished.
It felt…weird yesterday, a different kind of weird last night, a different kind of weird this morning and I imagine there will more moments of different weirdness for a while.
More reflections and weird thoughts to come over the next few months, I’m sure.