Not Your Nano day 16 – psh endings who needs them?


Let me tell you a little secret about the way I write. Very often, I write a huge chunk of book, feel defeated, and slap on a crappy ending and call it done-for-now. It gets me over that I’ll never finish this shite waaaah feeling.

When the Sea is Rising Red began life as a little slip of a vignette – an encounter in the rain. I left it for ages before I wrote an actual novel with an actual (terrible) ending. (Which my editor had me cut completely (the final third of the book, basically) and rewrite until it was a proper ending.) With House of Sand and Secrets, I gave up half way through the book and abandoned it with a perfunctory few notes, and only came back to it a few years later. Sometimes, endings need time to compost in that squidgy brain matter, the ideas need to develop, dreamwise and untempered by rationality and deadlines.

(Sometimes, deadlines make composting happen faster, let us not pretend :P)

Turns out, I’m not the only one who works this way, as a random sampling of some of my fellow writers shows. Quite a few in my writers’ group mentioned using placeholder endings and notes to call it done, just to get to the point where they could start working on making it into a real novel.

What I’m saying is, if what you need to do is write a fake-out ending just so you can call the novel done and get into the real work of revising and rewriting, that’s perfectly okay. Some of us have the ending completely in mind and know exactly how it will work, and some of us find our ending by trial and error. And trial and error and trial error.

Never let anyone tell you a “real writer” has to work in a certain way. A real writer puts words down, and fixes them (some more so than others). That’s it. There’s not even a correct way to do that – pen and paper, typewriter, word processor, text document, speech to text software, dictating to your secretary….just get them down.

100 words, my kittens of despair. You can do that.

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