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The Malignant Ending

October 26, 2015

I love writing beginnings. Whether it's the start of a whole novel or just the start of a chapter, there's a sense of infinite opportunity. You can let your mind roam far and wide. By the time you set fingertips to keyboard, chances are you've been daydreaming about what to say for days (or weeks); and even if the words don't exactly flow, there's a sense of satisfaction as you try to puzzle out what you're trying to do. It's a good sort of problem solving.

 

However, I have come to discover that I really dislike writing endings. Endings have to be precise. They have to be neat. They have to resolve everything that needs resolving, without seeming perfunctory or contrived. Usually when I write a chapter, I spend a lot of time trying to get the beginning and the middle right; but by the time I reach the end, I'm so eager to move onto the next chapter, that the last few pages tend to sit, half-written and scrappy, for weeks before I finally force myself to go back and look at them. It's the bad sort of problem solving, because whereas you usually have many ways of approaching the beginning of a chapter, you often only have a very limited number of ways of tackling the end. Everything's already been set up. There isn't any space left for inspiration; instead this is the long, hard slog of a craftsman trying to get something right.

 

It turns out that my disatisfaction with endings all gets magnified a hundredfold with final pages of a novel. Really I should have finished this project days ago. But my brain keeps baulking at the amount of pedancy needed to get it done right. Fortunately, I'm not in a hurry, so I can draw this out. And perhaps the problems I need to solve will untangle themselves without me having to put my brain through the mincer.

 

But still, I'm already far more interested in what I want to say at the beginning of Book Two...

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