Tag Archives: finishing a novel

The Hardest Part to Write

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I finished a novel rough draft today.  But the end is not the hardest part to write.  Well, this one was, but not because it was the end of the story.  It was the part where a character you have carefully crafted over time, and really learned to love, has to die because that is simply how the story goes.  It was not a sad death, or an unresolved death, as such.  It was a fulfilled life of meaning and magic that simply came to its ending point.  My own real-life story may come to an end sometime in near the future too, and I can only hope it is half as much a satisfying completion as this one was.  And yet, my heart is sore from having written it.

The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  It is a story of a little old lady.  She is alone in the world, except for the people in the little Iowa town where she is now living, especially the middle school age people who gather at her house to eat her gingerbread cookies and listen to her German fairy tales.  She was also a concentration camp survivor, so this story has Nazis in it.  Don’t worry though.  They are dead Nazis.  And there is a werewolf in it.  But only a baby werewolf.  Oh, and there are two twin teenage girls who are practicing nudists in it.  But you probably aren’t worried about them.  There are also fairies in it.  She tells fairy stories, after all.  And the whole book is more or less a collection of fairy stories.  And there is a lot of magical gingerbread cookies.

But I had to write the “character dies” part that I knew was coming for about six months.  It is the part that will make or break the story.  It is the part I will most need to polish and rewrite.  But the fact remains, the story ends with a death.  So there is that.  Life with gingerbread in it is also life that eventually comes to an end.

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And that part of the story is always really, really hard to write.

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Finishing the Wheels of Stone (I finished my novel…Yay!)

MillisI finished a novel today.  I reached Canto One Hundred and Eighteen (I inexplicably call chapters cantos and pretend that they are really parts of an epic poem or story-song).  I put an ending on the story I have been working on since the Summer of 2012.  Now, it probably is not obvious to you, especially if you are a writer who takes a rough draft and reworks, rewrites, revises, and does several other things to it that start with re-.  I don’t work that way.  I build a story with stone blocks, and am loathe to take foundation stones out of it once I’ve constructed the castle in the air.  So this story, Blue and Mike in colorThe Bicycle-Wheel Genius, starts with gossip in a post office, and ends with tears and laughter at a wake for a beloved character whom I never expected to die when I started the story.  It can no longer be changed.  Like any stone structure, all I can do now is polish the surface.  So, I am elated.  The worst of the birth pangs are over.  Have you ever tried to pass a stone castle?  Painful is a total understatement.  And I have to say, I love this story now with a passion, even though when I reread it out loud to polish it, it is going to tear my heart out all over again.  But it is done, and the celebrations must now begin!

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