No, I’m still not finished my WIP.
But honest to goodness, this last novel in my historical fiction trilogy is truly almost done. I know I’ve written about being close before, but now I’m really close. Like, a two-digit number of pages remaining that starts with 2 (or maybe even one!) close.
When last I wrote about my WIP’s impending end, I discussed various insights that had occurred to me as I continued along this process.
Well, a new level of nearness to the end has engendered an all new set of realizations:
1) Plotholes ahoy
The closer a story gets to the end, the more clearly it settles toward its inexorable conclusion, the set-up to which needs to be honest, with all the earlier pieces of the story in their proper place.
It’s for this reason – this final lining up of all the ducks, as it were – that I suspect I’m every other day stumbling over some action or character motivation I didn’t think all the way through, finding myself suddenly wondering, Wait! Why would she do X when Y would be so much easier?
Why besides my needing it so for the sake of the plot, that is?
Thankfully, I’ve so far been able to answer each question in due course, which now gives me hope, despite what I previously wrote, that maybe my story won’t implode at the eleventh hour.
2) What kind of writer am I?
To this day, I’ve never successfully finished a novel-length story, and never has this weighed so heavily upon me than now.
It’s actually a rather remarkable failing on my part given I’ve been writing seriously since 2000. Not counting the six years I quit between 2006 and 2012, that still leaves me almost ten years to have completed something.
But I haven’t, at least by my reckoning. I don’t count the first installment of this trilogy because, even though it’s novel-length, the overall story isn’t complete. Plus I now realize I ended that installment too soon for it to satisfactorily stand on its own.
I definitely don’t count the second installment of the trilogy, for that one didn’t end at all. It just grew to the length of two novels (nearly 600 pages) and as yet has an undetermined dividing line between it and the third installment.
Meanwhile, I didn’t even sort of finish my very first novel – a fantasy I started writing back in 2001 – which was so fatally flawed (it essentially did self-destruct at the eleventh hour), I quit it exactly one page and one chapter from the planned end.
So in a lot of ways, the outcome of this story will make or break how I think of myself as a writer moving forward.
3) Screw you, Universe
I’ve heard it said that whenever people set out to do something new, the universe often tests the strength of their resolve.
I originally planned to finish my WIP by the end of April in solidarity with a friend who had to sit a major exam for work at that time.
Well, my friend’s done passed the exam, her job is secure, and she’s enjoying live again.
I, on the other hand, was forced to move house to avoid an impending renoviction – a process whose many time-consuming steps swallowed more than a month of my writing time.
Add to that an uptick in late nights at work, a pro-d work opportunity involving travel, and the overall loss of creative muscle tone I suffer from breaks in my writing work(out) schedule and I’m desperate to finish this book before the next big distraction rears its head.
4) Driven to distraction
Normally, I can quarantine my writing life from my non-writing life quite effectively, but the closer I get to my WIP’s end, writing’s become pretty much all I can concentrate on, to the detriment of … well, every other thing that I do.
Thoughts of writing are infecting my work, my sleep, my daily transit (I arrive at places with no recollection of the journey to get there), even my prided ability to learn new routines in my dance fitness class faster than everyone else, leaving me most days in a complete and utter daze.
Which, combined with my general disorientation from having just moved – I’m constantly bumping into things, leaving drawers open, leaving lights on, and misplacing things since I’ve not yet developed an autopilot for moving through the space – has me feeling like I’m slowly losing my mind.
5) Leaving a tidy slate
The nearer I get to the end and the more fitful my progress towards it, the more important it becomes for me to write every remaining thought as thoroughly as I’m able.
Writer friends have suggested I not worry about the various plot questions right now, instead just writing the very last scene and filling in what’s missing during revision.
However, I want to give myself something substantial to work when I finally start revising.
I’m trying to conclude my WIP with a strong emotional impact. So right now – while I’m eating, breathing, and sleeping this story – is surely the best opportunity to capture the full essence of what I’m trying to say.
No doubt time and distance from the work will later help me refine and revise that message. But I really do feel that if I don’t lay a solid groundwork now, I may lose the ability to do so, and forever be stuck with a watered-down version of what I really meant.
One positive thing I do have to report is that my nightly word counts (such as they are; they’ve never been my most boast-worthy asset as a writer) have noticeably increased, on some nights even coming close to doubling.
So I do believe I can finish this work, and soon (I have another trip coming up, so it needs to be soon), and that the next time I blog specifically about my WIP will be to report I’ve finally reached the E-N-D.
What kinds of experiences have you had nearing the completion of a long-term project? Tell me about it in the comments.
(Image source #1 and #2)
12 thoughts on “Even More Thoughts on Nearing the End”
Congratulations on approaching the end of the trilogy. I wrote ‘To Be Continued’ at the end of Book 1 of Pride’s Children – and I have been working my little tail off on graphics and description writing for the last three months (who though it would take this long?), so I am in kind of the same boat – except books 2 and 3 are in VERY rough drafts, so I’m facing an absolute minimum of 2 more years.
You’ll be done way before that.
Just keep doing the next thing forward.
You’ll get there.
Don’t spend too much more time not writing; those muscles atrophy mighty fast!
This has been such a weird experience – doing something completely out of my comfort zone, and in territory where ‘good enough’ isn’t: if you can’t do something that looks professional, you shouldn’t be doing your own.
Most people save themselves the time, and get a designer involved – and live with the consequences.
But I’ve nurtured a secret graphics side since the first Apple with a mouse. Now I can do almost anything I want with Pixelmator. And it only cost 2-3 months of my life. And made me a wonderful new friend.
They say you should get some distance between yourself and your writing before the final edit; this accomplished that goal (accidentally). The edit will be much stronger for the distance.
But I NEED to get back to writing. It’s a visceral need, and a gift, and you’re right that it wants constant feeding.
Yes, I too have heard it’s good to take some time away from one’s MS before revision. I plan to spend my time finally adding the finer touches to my new apartment, like hanging my artwork and learning how best to prune my houseplants, and just taking more time to read down my TBR list.
Good for you for taking on such a challenge. I’m not adverse to a good challenge myself, however since I have no hidden talent for graphics (I’d much rather just write the 1000 words), it’s not something I could ever see myself doing.
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Re: #4… please don’t work on your novel while biking to work. Traffic does not brake, even for genius.
Well, I’m not biking with any kind of inputting device (unlike some other texter-riders I’ve seen), but some of my best ideas do come to me while riding whether I want them to or not.
If you rode a tank to work, you could probably get all kinds of writing done. Your fuel costs might go up a bit though.
I wouldn’t have to worry about traffic, though. 😉
Traffic. You mean those flat pieces of metal behind you?
I don’t think I’d ever have your level of dedication to commit to such a lengthy work Janna. I’m similarly awed by David Kynaston, the British social historian that writes book after book with endless detail and research that he must surely work 24 hours a day for years on end. Meanwhile I have just stopped entirely, run out of motivation, with a number of half-finished projects.
Look forward to your next blog and ‘The End’.
It’s not even all that long, Roy – three books isn’t much. I’m just such a slow writer, it’s taken me half of forever to get through it! I’m really looking forward to moving on to something new (for all that I’ll still have WIP revision to contend with).
It can be hard to maintain motivation in the summer when the sun is shining and there’s so much to do out of doors. Don’t begrudge yourself a break; you obviously need it. The work will be waiting for you when you’re ready.