Beginning or Ending?

There is something intimidating about the blank page.  It is tantalizingly full of possibility, waiting to be filled with your words.  All stories, the best and the worst, the longest and the shortest, start exactly the same way:  with a blank page and an author about to strap it on (SOWISA, babyluv).

I have a lot of trouble starting stories (or blog entries, for that matter).  It takes such gumption to think that you can fill the page, that your words are worthy to spoil the unadulterated potential of the blank page, that your story deserves to be told.  I end up trying to talk myself out of it half the time, telling myself that the story isn’t ready to be written (sometimes true), that I am not ready to write it (probably often true, but it doesn’t stop me), or that the world doesn’t need my story (never true).

But I think that finishing the story is harder, at least for me.

When I start, I first have to give myself permission to mess up the story.  I have to give myself permission to mangle the characters, to forget half of the things that are supposed to happen, and to get the tone all wrong.  I have to be prepared to tell the story out of order, upside down and backwards, all to get it out.

But when the story is done…that’s it.  I don’t mean that I won’t go back and edit, that I won’t refine the story and make it better, because I will.  It will give me a chance to fix everything that I did wrong the first time through (and that’s usually quite a list), but until I write those last lines, it’s like I haven’t messed up yet.  “It’s okay,” I can tell myself, “I’m still writing, so that poor dialog in chapter two doesn’t matter.”

When the story is done, it does.

There’s also a great deal of exploration for me when I write.  I start out with a bunch of characters, a situation, and maybe half an idea for an ending, but no idea what will happen in between.  The process of writing for me is a process of discovery, of learning what happens as it happens, and it’s surprising and fun.  Once I have hit the end of the reel, though, then I might be able to adjust events, to change them, but that discovery has gone.

So to me, writing the ending of the story is harder.  Not because I don’t know how I want the story to end (by the time that I get there, I almost always do), but because I don’t want the story to be over.  I want to stay in that world, always with more potential.  But I can’t, because the story has to end, be cleaned up, and be worked into something that is cohesive and beautiful.

It probably bears noting at this point that I have finished my first write through of my NaNo novel.  There is one skipped scene, but I am waiting to fill that in during editing.  All of the summary that I did is expanding.  The story has been bookended.


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