I’ve heard a lot of authors say that writing endings is easy.
When people say this, I have trouble liking them, even though some of them are my friends.
For me, endings are hard. All endings – in writing and real life. Yes, I know there are new beginnings every time something ends. When summer ends you get the gorgeous colors of fall. And when all the leaves fall off of the trees you get the pristine whiteness of snow. And when a door closes a window opens, and blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s all easy for you to say.
When I’m writing a novel or a story, or even a blog, the ending is usually the last thing to come right. I’ve learned that when I get to the end of a writing project I might as well just slap something onto the page and not stress. Because it’s going to change with every revision until finally I get it right. Usually I don’t worry about it too much anymore, but when I was on deadline with the first round of editor-requested revisions of Wakeworld, I started to panic.
I’d been terribly horribly busy and time was of the essence. I had enough writing time, (barely) but not enough thinking time, and I was worrying too much to be able to make good use of the time I had. During the week before deadline I had a small meltdown, sure that the book and my writing career were doomed to the deepest depths of writer oblivion.
My Viking hates it when I have meltdowns. He gets all blustery, in fact. Early in our relationship this distressed me further, but I came to understand that he simply doesn’t like to see me cry and gets snarly when he can’t Make It All Better. He’s a smart man, and he knows me well, and on this occasion he knew exactly what I needed.
That weekend, he checked me into a motel all by myself, patted me on the head, and left me alone to write.
This was no fancy motel. Small room. No amenities. Bed, bathroom, and an old TV. Not much to do besides either write or think, which was sort of the point. So I wrote and I thought and I wrote. I napped. I wrote some more. And I finished all of the revisions except for the ending which still wasn’t right. At last, exhausted, I feel asleep.
And when I woke up in the morning, I knew.
I opened my laptop and tapped away, and thirty minutes later, there it was.
When I got home I showed it to my Viking. “I’ll probably still need to tweak it a bit,” I said.
His answer – “Leave it alone. You nailed it.”
Of course I didn’t really believe him. But just this last week, when I went through line edits and a polish round, I realized he might be right. And when I got to the ending, I didn’t change a thing.
Your turn: how do you feel about endings?