I remember thinking when I first started writing this novel that the beginning was a little bit horrible. Everything was up in the air and I wasn’t sure where they should fall yet, and I barely knew the characters and even the plot was kind of shaky. I remember thinking that if only I could push my way past the first quarter of the thing, everything would start falling into place and then I could just write, instead of throwing words at a brick wall and hoping some of them could make it through. The ending, I thought then, would be a beautiful downhill slope with everything lined up in a neat row of gates to be checked off one by one by one.
Happily, there’s some truth to that. I’ve gotten so much satisfaction in the last little while, seeing the various threads I was spinning start to come together the way I’d hoped they would, watching everything finally reach the inevitable conclusion I was building to. I’m sure practice plays a large part in this, but I also think this building enthusiasm has contributed to how much easier I found it to write more words each day.
On the other hand, I’ve learned that the end of things is where my mistakes have gone to lurk while I wasn’t noticing. Oh, there were problems before, but most of those could be waved away to one extent or another. “I’ll figure this out later,” I told myself on multiple occasions. “I can work around this and have it come out all right in the end.” That was true too, and I’ve gone some interesting and unexpected directions because of that sort of logic.
But with two and a half chapters to go, I’ve suddenly found that there’s no more room to maneuver anymore! All of a sudden Gwen is standing at this door, and I realize that there are about nine things I hadn’t even considered about the situation she’s in, and there’s no way to back her out of it gracefully without rewriting major chunks – which I have vowed not to do until I finish my first draft. So there she is, woefully under-equipped, staring at something she really shouldn’t be able to handle and with no choice but to handle it somehow, and somehow I have to make it all work.
It was really tempting to give up. Not in the ‘end of my budding writing career’ sort of way, I hasten to say. But it would be very easy to just write badly at this point, and tell myself I could fix the entire thing later. So what, if the entire second half of this chapter turned into “And then Gwen pulled out a bunch of things people gave her at the last minute and used them to magically solve all of her problems”? I know it won’t look like that in the end, so I might as well go with it for now and fix it in post. Except, of course, that it was that kind of logic that got me here in the first place.
I haven’t done much by way of writing, yet. After an hour of scowling at my plot and bitching at friends and family, though, I think I’ve stumbled onto a way to get her through this door while retaining a little bit of relevance and autonomy. I’m sure there will be flaws in this solution I’ve found, as I’m sure there are flaws all over the place, but I can’t help but feel this little bubble of satisfaction anyway. I wonder if there are some things you can’t do until you find yourself backed into a corner of your own making? Will my brain ever think “ah, yes, I should have her go in through the roof” without first suggesting that she try politely knocking on the front door?
What I do know, though, is that endings are not the breeze I was expecting them to be. All told, I think that’s actually a good thing.
She had a set of lockpicks lying in the bottom of the bag, working under the possibly-vain hope that after going through all the effort of locking this place away in a bubble dimension on the Other Side, Bynes-McCaffrey wouldn’t bother investing too much effort in locking the building itself. If he did double down … well, she’d tested out Lita’s magic pick set and determined that they did in fact work on both physical locks and the most complicated sealing ward Forbes could come up with. Add the fae himself, and between all of that the door should be no —
There was no door.