Thursday, March 16, 2017

Writer's diary: getting over the fear of endings

I've been working, for the past two days, on finishing the first draft of the eighth book in the Tales of Telmaja series. For those readers who don't know me from my old blog, I write and self-publish children's fiction; at present I have books in both the Tales of Telmaja series and a newer series, The Adventures of Ordinary Sam, available for sale. You can read more about them at my website, and both paperback and digital copies can be found for sale here.

Last year I managed to publish three of the six books I have available so far. I had hoped to keep that pace going or even accelerate it a bit, but the first three months of this year have been unexpectedly busy in other areas. That's one of the reasons I decided to blog more frequently during Lent: sometimes I have to break out of a habit of putting everything else first and writing way down near the bottom of the list.

I think anybody who pursues an artistic or craft-based interest will get this. It's extremely easy to decide that some household chore or bit of planning must urgently be done, and that one's artistic endeavors can always wait. What I've learned as a writer is that this isn't true. When you have the kind of time available that is conducive to writing, even if it's only five minutes, you will lose a lot if you let that time slip away or squander it folding socks or something.

This year, I lost the momentum I had going during November's National Novel Writing Month as December began, and never really got it back. Four months later I'm looking back at a bewildering kaleidoscope of things like Christmas and New Year's and four out of five family birthdays and a couple weeks of flu and the birth of four kittens and the persistent and escalating havoc wreaked by those kittens and I don't wonder that I haven't finished Book Eight yet--I wonder that I managed to complete the last two chapters and part of the epilogue at all.

But now that the end of the book is drawing near, I'm fighting a different battle: the "fear of ending" battle. Every writer knows this one, when your attempts so far to stifle your inner editor (as the good people at NaNoWriMo put it) suddenly fail and you start to believe there's some mystical perfection swirling around book endings and that if you don't get the ending exactly right on the first try you will ruin the whole book. No matter how silly that sounds when you actually put it in words (as I just did) it's a persistent fear, at least in my experience. It's hard to let go and move on to the next stage, the editing and proofreading and editing and proofreading and editing and...well, you know.

Still, there comes a time when you just have to push through it. You have to quit looking for household chores and hanging out on Facebook, and just finish the darned book. Because you want to publish three more books this year, and because April is coming, and it's time to switch gears and write the third book in your other series beginning April first--and that's no joke.