The closer I get to the end of my book, the harder it's becoming to write. That's not because I don't know where the story is going. Au contraire, I know exactly what has to happen between now and the end. And perhaps because I'm very much a pantser when it comes to writing, my certainty is getting in my way. It's just not as much fun to write when I know precisely where I'm going, in the same way it wouldn't be as much fun to read if I knew exactly how the story would turn out. (Hmmm, I think I've just had a revelation as to why I'm more of a pantser than a plotter!)
It's just as likely, however, that I'm a little afraid to finish. Paradoxical as that sounds, since I want to finish this book if for no other reason than to prove that I can, I suspect there's an element of truth here.
Because, first of all, finishing means saying good-bye to my characters in some fundamental sense. Yes, Patrick and Rosalind will likely make appearances in other stories in the future, but once they reach their "happily ever after", their story is over. And there's something just a little sad about that, especially after spending the last nine months in their company trying to get them to their "happily ever after."
More than that, though, I think I'm a little afraid to finish because it means it's time to start doing the work to actually get Patrick and Rosalind published and out in the world. It means revisions. (I know some writers prefer revising to writing, but I am not one of them. In a perfect world, my first draft would be my last. Obviously, the world will never be perfect...) And it means writing the dreaded query letter.
I know it's the idea of writing a synopsis that makes many writers shiver in their boots, but for me, it's the query letter that represents my greatest single fear in life. (I should mention here that I have absolutely no fear of speaking in public. I can get up in front of a room full of a thousand people and feel as comfortable as I would if we were sitting down for a chat in my kitchen over a cup of coffee. Assuming I'm prepared, of course. Don't ask me to do it off-the-cuff when I'm not expecting it. But I digress.)
Query letters scare me because so much rides on them. How can I distill my characters and story into a single page that's snappy and witty enough to convince an agent or editor that it's worth requesting my partial (or better yet, a full)? I mean, let's be honest here: even if I manage to cut 100+ pages out of my manuscript during revision, it takes me 400 pages to tell the story. And you want me to get that down to ONE page? Oy vey!
I'll admit that a great attraction of the contest route in my mind is the potential to get my partial read by an editor and, from that, to get a request for a full. All without having to write the dreaded query letter.
You can see that this terrifies me. More, in fact, than the lump I found in my left breast last week.
Ah, yes, I told you I was in a confessional mood.
I discovered this lump because it was quite painful--it hurt when I was toweling off after my shower on Thanksgiving morning. I kept quiet about it and didn't panic for several reasons, not the least of which was that I knew there wasn't a blessed thing I could do about it on Thanksgiving Day.
The lump has already shrunk quite a bit and it's not nearly as painful any more. I saw my doctor yesterday who reassuringly confirmed my suspicions that it was very unlikely to be cancerous for all the reasons I'd already come up with, those being:
- It hurt, and cancer usually doesn't hurt until it's very advanced.
- The lump coincided with my period.
- I'm at an age when breast cancer is extremely rare unless there's a genetic factor, and
- There is zero history of breast cancer among any of my female relatives (which sort of goes with #3).
Still, the thought of it has been sapping a fair amount of my emotional and intellectual energy over the past several days, which could be another reason I haven't been able to power through to "The End."
There are also three other reasons. Yesterday, I said I'd been on the Interruption Express all day, not least because of these three reasons: