Xeno’s Ending

mirroreffectI am currently working on a short story that took over my brain, right when I ought to be working on the book that took over my brain when I was supposed to be working on the new Sarah Tolerance book.  (For those following along at home: 1) Sarah Tolerance Book < 2) Urban Fantasy Thing < 3) Short Story.  This is why Madeleine cannot have nice things.)

So I want to finish this story. When its finished I can go back to #2, so I can return to #1. In aid of these goals, I’ve been writing on the train home from work. Because that means I’m writing by hand, it also means there are gaps.  There are also gaps where I cannot quite figure out how to get from point A to point B (trust me, this is part of my process.  Assuming I have a process).  This weekend I’ve been trying to fill up the gaps, knit the thing together so I can start doing the really important stuff of going through and making all the words stack up into story order.  I’ve actually written the last scene of the story–yea, even the last sentence–yet I still have this vertiginous feeling that the ending is constantly receding into the distance, as if it were trying to enact one of Xeno’s paradoxes (the one where you keep halving the distance between you and your objective, and therefore never quite reach the objective itself).

In my imagination, the ending just keeps getting up from its seat, taking ten steps back, and sitting down again.  And there am I, adding more and more words to get the middle part done, and watching the ending of my story recede from sight. In my imagination, my story is taunting me each time it gets up and moves away from me.  Malicious story: it’s not a happy thing to imagine.

Fortunately, I’ve been here before.  At some point in almost every piece of fiction I’ve ever written, it seems the book will never end, that bits will keep appending themselves in different places, and that the whole concern will simply fall over from its sheer ungainly largeness and lie on the metaphorical floor like a dead thing.

Part of writing (or any creative process) is persevering even when every iota of your diminishing brainpower is insisting that you should have listened to your Uncle Larry and taken up air conditioning repair.  Go forth and persevere.

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Xeno’s Ending — 3 Comments

  1. Oh, sister. Hugs! I am doing the same thing. I have the alleged text of the alleged novel over in a Word file, and over on Typewriter I have a vast document, nearly as long, of notes, scenes, scraps of dialog or description, useful links, and quotations of relevance. The idea here is to keep the actual story in one straight line progression, without losing any of the notes and concepts for bits of story to come. But, fatally, I have started adding stuff to the end of the ms as well. This is very bad. Already it is difficult to find bits in the Typewriter document. If all the mess proliferates over to the novel itself, I am undone.

  2. You know, you remind me that when I was on one of my summer road trips, I came up with a story idea involving the paradox you mention (I had forgotten its origin), and now I’m tempted to go back and resurrect it instead of working on the things that are supposed to be getting done. Sigh.

  3. Oh, Nancy Jane, I’m sorry.

    I have to say that my current situation is uncommonly nested (for me). Usually I’m a no-more-than-two-things-at-a-time girl. Maybe the day job is getting to me.