Drafting the Ending of a Book

I’m nearing the end of drafting a novel. Most of the time I haven’t had much trouble figuring out what needs to come next in the book. Lately though I felt like I’m floundering. I’m supposed to be grabbing the loose ends and tying them all together in a satisfactory conclusion. The trouble is that some of the loose ends I’ve got flopping around are not the right ones. Also I’m lacking a lot of threads that I need. This means that I’m writing myself a lot of notes about what I need to go back and put into earlier scenes and chapters. I’ve been tempted to go back and make all of these adjustments before forging onward to the ending. I’ve decided to plow through and write the ending anyway, even though I know it is the wrong one. So much about this book needs to shift around before it is ready for anyone to read it. I’ll have a clearer picture of what needs to shift once I have a completed draft. At least that’s what I’m telling myself in order to plow through to the end of the drafting.

For a while I was wondering if I was struggling with the novel because I have more personal familiarity with emotional struggle instead of emotional resolution. Life has not provided me with any “Happily Ever After” endings. Because I always have to get up the next morning and deal with the next day. Life is messy. Many problems come back again and again instead of being resolved permanently. Most of the things in my life which cause me stress are not new things. They’re just new iterations of old things. This means writing emotionally difficult scenes flows naturally. What is more difficult is trying to find an ending that feels true, gives hope, and doesn’t feel too neat. I don’t want to betray a complicated emotional story by tying all the loose ends into an unbelievably pretty bow. Yet I also want to express what I’ve found true in my own life, that repeated iterations of troubles can gradually provide permanent resolution. People can transform themselves and their lives, but it is not done easily or quickly.

I guess the best way to make sure that is in my book is to finish this draft and then rewrite it over and over again until I get it right.

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