I love finishing a book. There’s really no greater thrill than getting to those last pages, seeing the story form into a whole. Even with the looming task of editing (I really dislike editing) ahead, there are few more gratifying experiences in life than knowing the first draft of a book is complete.
I’m not there yet with this current project. The end isn’t far off, and I know I’ll reach it before too long. I’m not anxious to be done, exactly, but it’s reached the point when working on it feels more like plugging away than it does flying gleefully into a beginning or sweeping triumphantly into an ending. This the unromantic part of writing—not unrewarding, but plodding and cumbersome, a time of winding tangled threads of plot and character into a clear and cohesive strand. I enjoy the whole process, every step for its own challenges and pleasures. But this is the part when I’m forcing myself to open the Word file and throw down a few thousands more words, rather than eagerly jumping in, a hundred ideas tumbling off my fingers onto the screen.
It feels something like walking through a muddy field, you keep going even though the mud is dragging at your shoes and you’re wondering how you got yourself on this particular path, but there’s no going back now. I call these sticky patches, when ideas stick messily together and don’t flow freely or cleanly. Something always has to inspire me through it—sometimes it’s a blindingly brilliant (in relative terms) plot solution, sometimes it’s giving myself a necessary break from the work, sometimes the answer is just finding a new approach. My solution to this particular sticky patch has been to refocus on the romantic theme of the story, allowing that to become my priority and to dictate the suspense. Amazingly enough, it actually worked.
I’m not finished, nor in a hurry to be, but the next 12,000-14,000 words will see me winding things up, revealing the villain, explaining a tragic secret, resolving the love story and setting the heroine on a new path with a pocketful of experience. I’m almost out of the mud, almost ready to kick the last of it off my shoes and run gleefully on dry ground. Not quite yet, but soon.